The archaeological site of Agrigento is a memory that brings me back in time, 14 years ago.
As routine, when planning the family holiday my mum would ask my sister and I if we had any preferences. And, obviously, I could never hold my dreams down. That year I really wanted to go and see something a bit exotic whereas my dad was obsessed over Sicily. So we combined both ideas and drive to Sicily following the west coast, Naples, down to Calabria, and along the north coast of Sicily till Marsala (far west end) where few of our relatives live. After a visit to the family that was expecting us, we headed down to a little, peaceful fishermen village, my memories go around the sunny excursions to the beach, that burning sand between my toes, and the canoeing trips to reach the close tiny island we were able to see from the solid ground. Few days later, we drove to Agrigento to visit the famous Valle dei templi (Valley of temples). It was an incredibly hot day of August, I remember I wasn’t able to stand in the sun despite the fact that I was well equipped: hat, sunglasses and a bottle of water. My sister and I, typical teenagers at the time, were complaining all the time for the merciless weather, but I was also truly and secretly enjoying the site of those ruins. Moving on those dirt roads with a map in my hand I felt like an adventurer seeking for hidden treasures from an ancient world. Do you recall Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? That’s it! Thanks to my wild imagination I am always living in a book or staring in a movie! How to live life with a pair of color filters and optimism at your side!
After a day spent strolling in the endless archeological site, we got on a small airplane and took off for a 5 day adventure in the Tunisian desert. But this is a different chapter.
About the Valle dei Templi:
The archaeological site at Agrigento, in Sicily, was inserted onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. The remains from the Hellenic city, and additionally from the successive Punic-Roman era, the Doric temples – to this day almost completely intact – the agora, the pagan and Christian necropolises, and the crawling network of subterranean aqueducts, constitute the richness of this site. Extending over approximately 1,300 hectares, it recounts a millenary history that began in the 6th Century B.C. with the foundation of the ancient Greek colony of Akragas.
Akragas was one of the largest Greek cities on the Mediterranean Sea. The colony saw a period of heavy expansion throughout the 5th Century B.C., during the reign of the tyrant Theron. This expansion continued when democracy was established: Doric temples were erected on the southern hill. This was also the battle theatre during the fight between the Romans and Carthaginians over control of the Mediterranean. Later, the city fell into decay and disrepair until finally, the Romans conquered it, dubbing it “Agrigentum.”
The actual core of the archaeological site of Agrigento lies in the area of the magnificent temples. The Temple to Zeus – or Jove the Olympian – and the only remaining ruins of which are its base and principal altar, was one of the biggest Greek temples in Antiquity. The oldest temple in Agrigento is, rather, that of Heracles or Hercules, while the best-preserved is that of the Concordia.
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