Don Feidner

Agrigento - Ancient Greek City

Last Update: 25 January 2012

Zurück zur Hauptseite!


an Ancient Greek City

on the

Southern Coast of Sicily

CIMG0364 Agrigento

Agrigento - View from the Temple of Concordia

Ancient Akragas covers a huge area — much of which is still unexcavated today — but is exemplified by the famous Valle dei Templi ("Valley of the Temples", a misnomer, because it is a ridge, rather than a valley). It comprises a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city where 7 Greek temples were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Now excavated and partially restored, they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself. They are listed as a World Heritage Site.

CIMG0369 Agrigento

Temple of Juno (from Agrigento)

The most famous temple of Agrigento is the Temple of Concordia, one of the best-preserved Doric temples in the world. It is almost entirely intact - only its roof is missing - because it was converted into a Christian church in 597 AD. The area around the Temple of Concordia was later re-used by early Christians as a catacomb, with tombs hewn out of the rocky cliffs and outcroppings. 
Dated to c.450-440 BC based on its style, the Temple of Concordia has an area of 125 x 55 feet at the level of the top step. It has 13 columns along each side and 8 columns on each end. The Doric columns are 22 feet high including the capitals and have a diameter of 4.5 feet at the base.
The dedication of the temple is unknown; "Temple of Concord" seems to have no historical basis. Nevertheless, local tradition says that newlyweds who visit the temple on their wedding day will have a peaceful marriage.

CIMG0368 Agrigento

Temple of Concordia

CIMG0371 Agrigento
CIMG0373 Agrigento

Archaeological Museum

CIMG0386 Agrigento

Note the Color of the Christ Figure
above the Portal of this Ancient Church

CIMG0387 Agrigento
CIMG0391 Agrigento

Chapel in Train Station

A Terrible but Necessary Decision - Breaking Off the Tour

The night after I arrived in Agrigento, I became ill, shivering with the shakes that accompany an infection in my tent changing places with a fever that made it seem like 90 degrees in a 0-degree tent. I hate to ever break off a cycling trip, but this time it was necessary.

There were other reasons which I will list here:

  • Sicilians would rather use their horns than their brakes when a bicycle appears before them on a highway.
  • What I expected to be a slow rolling highway that was flat in places ended up being a highway with several steep hills and few flat places. That means I had to push my heavily loaded-bicycle up many hills on a relatively busy highway.
  • The temperature, which is usually between 5° and 17°C in January was unusually cold this year - between -3° and 12°C on average - not a comfortable temperature for cycling.
    For me, the most comfortable temperature for cycling is between 12° and 17° Celsius.
  • Last, but not least, I crashed the bike which caused a minor injury to my neck and back.
CIMG0360 Agrigento

Agrigento - View to the Mediterranean Sea

Agrigento is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas (Ἀκράγας). It was one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece. Akragas was one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia.

Agrigento was founded on a plateau overlooking the sea and was established around 582-580 BC. It is attributed to Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas. (I rode the bicycle through Gela, eating lunch there, but was unimpressed by the location and the traffic in the city.)

CIMG0369 Agrigento

Temple of Juno

The best-preserved of the temples are two very similar buildings traditionally attributed to the goddesses Juno Lacinia and Concordia.

The Temple of Juno (a.k.a. Temple of Hera Lacinia) occupies a particularly high position on the ridge at the southeast corner of the ancient city. It is further elevated by the use of four steps instead of the usual three on the temple platform.

Dated to 460-50 BC based on its style, the Temple of Juno retains most of its original colonnade, which has been partially restored. It measures 125 x 55 feet at the top step and has 6 by 13 columns. Stone staircases flank the doors of the inner shrine. Traces of the burning by the Carthaginians are still visible.

CIMG0367 Agrigento Greek Temple

Temple of Juno

CIMG0370 Agrigento

Temple of Concordia at Night

The other temples are much more fragmentary, having been toppled by earthquakes long ago and quarried for their stones. The largest by far is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, built to commemorate the Battle of Himera in 480 BC: it is believed to have been the largest Doric temple ever built. Although it was apparently used, it appears never to have been completed; construction was abandoned after the Carthaginian invasion of 406 BC.

CIMG0374 Agrigento

Many other Hellenistic and Roman sites can be found in and around the city of Agrigento. These include a pre-Hellenic cave sanctuary near a Temple of Demeter, over which the Church of San Biagio was built. A late Hellenistic funerary monument erroneously labelled the "Tomb of Theron" is situated just outside the sacred area, and a 1st-century AD heroon (heroic shrine) adjoins the 13th century Church of San Nicola a short distance to the north. A sizeable area of the Greco-Roman city has also been excavated, and several classical necropoleis and quarries are still extant.

CIMG0385 Agrigento

Much of present-day Agrigento is modern but it still retains a number of medieval and Baroque buildings. These include the 14th century cathedral and the 13th century Church of Santa Maria dei Greci ("St. Mary of the Greeks"), again standing on the site of an ancient Greek temple (hence the name). The town also has a notable archaeological museum displaying finds from the ancient city.

CIMG0381 Agrigento

Patriarch in City Park

CIMG0361 Agrigento

Agrigento - Train Station

CIMG0390 Agrigento

Agrigento - Train Station

Next Stop - Catania - One Day before Flying Home


RETURN to Don Feidner’s HOME PAGE

To return to the HOME page, you can also click the photograph at the top left corner at any time.

Visitors since 16 September 2006