Sicily Sights

Valle dei Templi

  • Via dei Templi Map It
  • Agrigento
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 06/07/2016

Fodor's Review

The eight or so monuments within the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are considered to be, along with the Acropolis in Athens, the finest Greek ruins in the world. Whether you first come upon the valley in the early-morning light, bathed by golden floodlights after sunset, or at its very best in February, when the valley is awash in the fragrant blossoms of thousands of almond trees, it's easy to see why Akragas (Agrigento's Greek name) was celebrated by the Greek poet Pindar as "the most beautiful city built by mortals." The temples were originally erected as a showpiece to flaunt the Greek victory over Carthage and have withstood a later sack by the Carthaginians, mishandling by the Romans, and neglect by Christians and Muslims.

Although getting to, from, and around the dusty ruins of the Valle dei Templi is pretty easy, this important archaeological zone still deserves several hours. The temples are a bit spread out, but the valley is all completely walkable

and usually toured on foot. However, since there's only one hotel (Villa Athena) that's close enough to walk to the ruins, you'll most likely have to drive to reach the site. Parking is at the entrance to the temple area. The site, which opens at 8:30 am, is divided into western and eastern sections. For instant aesthetic gratification, walk through the eastern zone; for a more comprehensive tour, start way out at the western end and work your way back uphill.

You'll want to spend time seeing the eight pillars of the Tempio di Ercole (Temple of Hercules) that make up Agrigento's oldest temple complex, dating from the 6th century BC, and the beautiful Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Concord), up the hill from the Temple of Hercules, perhaps the best-preserved Greek temple currently in existence.

Other notable temples are the Tempio di Giunone (Temple of Juno), east on the Via Sacra from the Temple of Concord, which commands an exquisite view of the valley (especially at sunset) and the Tempio di Giove (Temple of Jupiter); though never completed, it was once considered the eighth wonder of the world.

At the end of Via dei Templi, where it turns left and becomes Via Petrarca, stands the Museo Archeologico Regionale. An impressive collection of antiquities from the site includes vases, votives, everyday objects, weapons, statues, and models of the temples. Be sure to visit after you've seen the temples.

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Sight Information

Address:

Zona Archeologica, Via dei Templi, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Map It

Phone:

0922-621620; 0922-621657

Sight Details:

  • €10, €13.50 with museum (free 1st Sun. of the month)

Published 06/07/2016

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