Updated: Jan 17, 2020
The Temple of Concordia is one of the best-preserved Greek buildings in the world.
Like most of Sicily, Agrigento has seen its share of invaders and inhabitants over the centuries. Inhabited since pre-historic times, in the mid 500s BC settlers arrived from the eastern Mediterranean and by the mid-5th Century BC a temple complex arose. The Valley of the Temples was built along a mile-long acropolis stretching east to west and looking out at the sea. Today visitors can wander along the ruins of a series of tan limestone temples in varying states of repair.
The Temple of Hercules is the earliest temple on the site.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux honors Zeus and Leda's twin sons.
The Temple of Juno was built in honor of the goddess of matrimony and childbirth.
The telamons are colossal statues made to support the temple of Zeus. They are thought to represent fallen Carthaginian warriors.
The walls of the city had tombs built into them.
The gods honored include Hercules, Zeus, Juno, Demeter, Castor and Pollux. The crowning glory is the Temple of Concordia, almost fully preserved as one of the grandest and longest temples (130 x 55 feet) of the ancient Greek world. The temple was spared from ruin by being converted into a Christian church in the 6th Century. To access the vast archeological site, we stayed overnight at the nearby Colleverde Park Hotel just a five minute drive away. The hotel offers spectacular gardens where guests can enjoy refreshing cocktails including their signature drink, an Aperol Spritz made with Sicilian orange granita (crushed ice). As we watched sun set we were able to see the Temple of Concordia way off in the distance.
Guests can sip cool drinks served by a very friendly waitstaff in the gardens that look out on the Valley of the Temples in the distance.
The visit to the Valley of the Temples begins at the lower section of the complex which was dedicated to Demeter and Persephone, the mother and daughter who became known as goddesses of nature. In Greek mythology, Persephone was taken by Hades to the underworld. Her mother implored Zeus to return her to earth. He returned the daughter each year for Spring and Summer giving the world the warm, sunny growing seasons. The Greeks at Agrigento developed a very strong cult devoted to the goddesses and considered Sicily to be Zeus' wedding gift to Demeter. In keeping with the cult, worshippers brought offerings to this part of the complex which also included the Kolymbethra, a large artificial pool stocked with fish. The area is now a preserve of Mediterranean plants.
The Kolymbethra was a massive artificial fish pond in ancient times.