The Valley of the Temples

Sicily 2093
Reconstructed remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.

Our hotel is close to the city of Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples, one of the world’s best preserved sits of Greek and Roman temple ruins. Why it is the called the valley of the temples is not clear, because the temples are actually set on a raised and naturally fortified strip of land about a mile from and overlooking the Mediterranean.

Originally founded about 580BC when the Greek city states were expanding into Sicily and elsewhere around the Mediterranean, the site when through a variety of Greek, Carthaginian and Roman ownerships over a 1000 year period before being largely abandoned as the modern city took shape on a neighbouring hillside. The city was destroyed and rebuilt several times over that period, such that it is very hard to form a coherent view of how it might have looked ‘at its peak’. But it does retain one of the best-preserved of all Greco-Roman temples, the Temple of Concord, a convenient name which avoids the uncertainty about which god or words it was originally built to venerate. That it survives at all, is due to a decision of the early Christian church to ‘re-purpose’ the temple as a place of Christian worship. The rest of the site was raised to the ground and many of the seemingly original standing column are the result of restoration or re-imagination in the early C20.

It’s a big site to cover and a single visit hardly does it justice. But you cannot help but be awed by the scale and ambition of what was created here; multiple massive temples forming an enormous complex at least 2km long. Well worth the visit.