The Valley of the Temples is one of the most important archeological areas in Sicily and a Unesco World Heritage site - the ruins of the ancient city of Akragas. These are the oldest Greek ruins outside of Greece and I was so excited about seeing them. Once we got to the bus parking lot beside the train station in Agrigento we checked into the conveniently located Hotel Amici. From there it was just 20 minutes by local bus to the archeological site. I had read that the most spectacular temples were in the eastern zone so that is where we started our exploration. (The western zone is just across the road.) We got a guidebook at the ticket office to help explain things; there were also audio guides available. After paying for our tickets - €10 which included entrance to the Archeological Museum - we took a path that lead to the ruins of the Temple of Juno. Built between 470 and 450 BC it occupies the highest and most panoramic position on a hill.
|The Temple of Juno|
As we continued along the Via Sacra we saw unusual holes in the stretch of city walls that run alongside. These were half moon shaped tombs dating back to Byzantine times called Arcosolium graves.
Next we came to the Villa Hardcastle. It used to be the Agrigento home of the English Navy captain Sir Alexander Hardcastle. He loved this valley and used up all of his personal inheritance in an attempt to bring it back to life. Thanks to his financial contribution and the enthusiasm shared with archaeologist Pirro Marconi, he was responsible for the reconstruction of eight columns from the Temple of Hercules during the years 1924-31. His house is now used as a multi-media museum and there is an elegant café nearby - the 'Caffetteria agli Arcosoli'.
Opposite the Villa Hardcastle lies the necropolis, crypts that were created out of ancient Greek cisterns, where numerous burial chambers were dug out during the Early Christian period.
|Early Christian Necropolis|
|The Temple of Hercules|
The site is open every day, all year round 8.30am – 7pm. In July and August the closing time is 10pm. After sunset it is illuminated and I can imagine that it would look even more breathtaking.