Agrigento: Valley Of
The Temples

Agrigento, home of the Valley of the Temples, is located on the southwest coast of Sicily, and was built on the site of one of the riches cities in Magna Graecia. The original city was founded by Greek colonists around 580 BCE and named Akragas.

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The Temple of Concordia

Like most of Sicily, the city has a volatile history. From its beginnings under tyrant rule, Akragas later became a democracy, then suffered through 400 years of alternating rule by the Carthaginians and the Romans. The Romans renamed it Agrigentum, although its inhabitants continued to speak Greek for centuries. It was ruled in turn by Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germany, France (twice), Spain (twice) and Austria, until Sicily became part of a united Italy in 1861.

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The Temple of Juno

Although much of ancient Akragas has yet to be excavated, Agrigento is a major tourist attraction because it features some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek temples outside of Greece. An area called Valley of the Temples features seven large Doric temples, two of which are reasonably intact. The other five were razed by earthquakes centuries earlier, but their ruins are still an impressive site.

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The Temple of Zeus ruins

These include the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which experts believe may be the largest Doric temple ever built. Unfortunately its stones were plundered in the 18th century to build jetties in a nearby town. There are also temples dedicated to Hephaestus, Heracles and Asclepius, as well as many nearby Greek and Roman archeological sites.

To see pictures of the Valley of the Temples at night, visit Valley of the Temples 2.