History of Italy: Valley of the Temples

Located just outside the city of Agrigento in Sicily is one of the most iconic Italian sights, the Valley of the Temples, which serves to remind us of ancient Greek rulers…


The Valle dei Templi is, quite understandably, one of Italy?s mostprized archeological relics. Built between 510 BC and 430 BC, it was excavated and restored in the early 19th century by Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta ? a Duke of Serradifalco with a keen interest in archeology. The site consists of eight Doric temples dedicated to various Greek gods (Hera, Zeus, Demeter and Hephaestos, among others), the most well preserved of which is the Temple of Concordia. With columns that reach 6.75m in height, this imposing structure is a fine example of the art and architecture of Greater Greece ? an area defined by the coastal regions of Italy that were heavily colonised by Greek invaders. During its heyday, Agrigento ? known then as Akragus ? was a much admired cultural centre, hence the Valley of the Temples was built to improve its power and status. However, the term ?valley? couldn?t be further from the truth ? the site is actually located on a prominent ridge just outside of the city.