The Temple of Concorde 370.
(photo credit: Itsik Marom)
When you look at the map, it looks like the big boot of the Italian Peninsula is
trying to kick away the island of Sicily, as if it was an “island non grata.” As
a matter of fact, ask any Italian and he will tell you that he would never give
That is more than likely in no small part due to the wonderful
gems this big island has to offer.
One of these gems is located away from
the masses and the popular main cities, near the town of Agrigento in the
southwestern region. Just two kilometers below it you will find one of the
UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Since 1998, the Valley of the Temples along with
its 12 unique ancient temples is recognized as a wonder by the United
But its history, of course, goes way back to the Greek settlers
from Gela who arrived here and built the city of Akragas, later to be called
Agrigento. In the 6th century BCE, the Greeks raised some impressive temples,
even for that time.
The first known philosopher, Empedocles, hailed from
Akragas. He set the famous division of matter into the four elements of earth,
fire, water and air, making him “the father of Science.” The city was so
beautiful that it drew poets who glorified it and later drew writers and
painters who extolled its virtues past its geographical
Obviously, the city suffered over the years from the usual
troubles of disputes with the Romans and Carthaginians in the Punic war, the
Byzantines and other invaders as well from natural forces such as major
earthquakes. In recent history, the city was bombed in World War II.
of these events brought destruction to the historical treasures, and many
vanished forever. Luckily for us, a few temples survived, were left in
relatively good shape and impressing every visitor.
With a little
imagination supplemented by a little bit of reading, one can see how the
beautiful city of Akragas immediately became a cultural center.
called the Valley of the Temples, the temples themselves stand on a ridge.
Standing on a small hill is the Temple of Concorde, in the best shape of the 12
temples. Archaeologists assume that it remained intact because it was converted
into a church in the 6th century CE. This could not protect it from nature’s
The Temple of Concorde carries a unique architectural
feature. Its columns deliberately narrow in their upper part to make them look
higher than they really are, which is around 13 meters. Among the other
structures, we find the Temples of Hercules, Jupiter, Vulcan and Hera.
is highly recommended to complete the visit in this magical archaeological park
by diving deeper into the 2,500- year pool of the region’s history. Enter the
nearby regional archaeological museum in the San Nicola convent complex. There
you will find a large exhibit of artifacts excavated and found throughout the
region. Be sure not to miss the giant figure of the 7.5-meter long Talemon
(Atlantes), originally from the Temple of Jupiter.
A combined ticket to
the park and the museum costs 10 euros. You can get to the park from Agrigento
with public transportation, but reaching the park is more convenient by private
car, and there is ample parking space on site. Try to enhance the effect of your
visit in the Valley of the Temples by getting there either early in the morning
or late in the afternoon when the low sun colors the columns orange-red and the
shadows are long and dramatic. When you leave, after the sun sets take a look
back – the temples are smartly illuminated and can be seen from far