Agrigento and the Valley of Temples

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Agrigento and the Valley of Temples: classical and immortal remains

In the South of Sicily the line of the horizon often meets witnesses of Hellenic, Arabic and other people who crossed the island. But the landscape is neither crowded nor chaotic and the nature makes this stage bright while the sun brightens the framing through the flashes of the sun across the waves. The history of the Southern Sicily is very old and it enables to better know its past in order to make its present richer starting with Agrigento, from the top of which you can see the sea that separates Sicily from Africa while this town overlooks the remains of the ancient Greek town Akragas and the Valley of the Temples featured by amazing tuff Doric columns belonging to the sacred buildings. “At the bottom”, on the other hand, there are the remains of the town that saw Empedocles walking around.

All these memories are gathered and protected by Unesco: actually the five Doric temples are not located in a valley but on a ridge: entirely made of a deep yellow chalky stone, they are arranged from the East towards the West according to the right reading of their sequence and aimed at looking towards the rising sun. The Temple of Concordia is almost intact, it was turned into a church in the VIth century then it was pillaged during the Middle Ages and its stones were used to construct other buildings. The most famous one is the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the landmark of the town, only four columns survived and a part of the beams frame. On the corner ashlar there is a beautiful rosette, a typical decorating element while on its right the remains of a possible sanctuary dedicated to the hellish divinities can still be seen: Persephone, the Goddess of the Underworld and her mother Demeter. The Temple of Heracles, in the Doric archaic style, is the most ancient one and today it is visible with eight columns that were raised in the first half of the XXth century. In the distance, along the imaginary line that connects all the temples of the valley, you will catch the sight of the very few remains of Temple of Hephesto.

Farther, in the Province of Caltanissetta, you can reach another icon of the classical art. You are on the high plane that dominates the Western beach of the outlet of the river Gela on the Southern coastline of Sicily. Once settled by a Doric colony founded in 689.688 B.C. this destination is praised for a number of important archaeological remains, the Hellenic fortresses of Capo Soprano, one of the best examples of the Greek military architecture: this site has been perfectly kept since its remains had been buried under the sand for thousands of years until their discovery in 1948.

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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