Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sicily - Valley of Temples (Agrigento)

The 'Valley' of Temples is actually a misnomer, because the Temples as you see them today are all on a ridge to the south of Agrigento. The area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the major attractions to Sicily, it is indeed a national monument of Italy.
They are considered to be of the best examples of 'Greater Greece' art and architecture outside of Greece itself. This was evident in the international mix of visitors on the day we were there. It was luckily a heavily overcast day with threatening rain which limited the amount of people walking about - read good photographic opportunities! There is nothing worse when visiting tourist sites than watching the vanity of those queueing and then posing in front of monuments wanting their pictures taken. Did they come to see ancient architecture or themselves? Which begs the question why did they come at all? And don't even get me going on those who climb and sit on statues and monuments ....

Below is a sample of some of the seven temples which can be seen, we spent three hours here but you could spend a whole day if you really wanted to get stuck into the history and archaeology of the site.

Temple of Juno used for wedding celebrations (east side)

Temple of Juno; north side (Agrigento side)

View towards the Med

Temple of Concordia. This is the best preserved and was turned into a church in 6AD. The significance of the bronze male is unknown to me.

Temple of Concordia from the east side. The olive tree is about 300 years old and perspex windows gives you a look at the roots; see the two windows in the ground to the right of the tree.

Temple of Heracles, the most ancient in the valley, was destroyed by an earthquake.

This stone objet d'art can be seen in the grounds of the former residence of Alexander Hardcastle, soldier and archaeologist, who spent a private fortune trying to find the remains of the theatre of Akragas (Grecian Agrigento). He died in 1933, impoverished in a mental asylum in Agrigento.

This was a wonderful day out, first to see the Almond Blossom Festival in Agrigento and then the afternoon in the Valley of Temples. Music, folk dancing, colourful parade and then some ancient archaeology to top it off. Thank you to Angela and team from Camping Scarabea who organised it all.

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