Valley of the Temples in Italy
Just outside the city of Agrigento on the island of Sicily, stands one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites that exists today. It is not only a fascinating attraction in Italy, but provides insight into a world that we can merely speculate on, a town once showered in Greek architecture and splendor, and the temples that each had their own meaning and purpose. As the Romans invaded this once bustling city, they destroyed most of the buildings and structures. What remains in the Valley of the Temples is eagerly explored by tourists and locals alike.
All the temples located in the Valley of the Temples face east in order for the rising sun to illuminate the gods that were housed inside each structure. Even though some of the temples are mere ruins, their presence is still breathtaking. Visitors to this site will still be able to appreciate their size and let their imaginations create the complete structure in their minds’ eye. The walking tours that are available through the temples educate visitors as to their reason for construction and their history.
One of the best preserved Doric temples, besides those found in Greece itself, is the Temple of Concorde. In honor of exactly which god the temple was constructed in 430BC is still unclear, but the four sided structure, complete with massive columns and colonnade, is an amazing sight. As the temple’s name might suggest, the Temple of Zeus was built out of appreciation for a war victory to Zeus in 480BC and was by far one of the largest structures, measuring almost a hundred and twelve meters by fifty-six meters. Once featuring large statues that doubled as supporting beams, only one remains at the site, with the rest on display at the Archeological Museum for preservation. Another impressive structure is the Temple of Hera Lacinia, which is located at the highest part of the Valley of the Temples and was dedicated to the goddess of marriage and childbirth. Of the thirty-four columns used to erect the building, visitors will still be able to see thirty. Other temples and tombs that visitors will be able to view are the Temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri), the Temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno), the Temple of Hercules, Temple of Esculapius, Temple of Vulcan (god of fire), Temple of Demeter and the Tomb of Theron (Terone).
When in Italy, visitors are recommended to take time out and walk through these truly awe inspiring temples. Once, the pride and joy of the Greek colony that lived here, and now the proud monuments of Sicily and its history, the Valley of the Temples is a window into an almost forgotten era and a reminder for future generations.