Valle dei Templi (aka Valley of the Temples) is a UNESCO rated archaeological park located on a ridge overlooking Agrigento, Sicily, Italy. The park consists of the relics of the ancient Greek city of Akragas. The remains of several Greek Temples dedicated to the Gods of Greek religion have been restored and are on glorious display for all visitors.
In a Nutshell
The Valley of the Temples was built within the ancient Greek city of Akragas (now known as Agrigento). The construction of the temples is said to have been between 510BC -430BC. Akragas was founded in 582BC and quickly became a prosperous and advanced colony outside of Greece.
The Akragas settlers’ successes and fertile lands bred conflict with other Greek colonies. In 406BC Hannibal, the Carthaginians and Dionysius fought the people of Akragas for eight months. The citizens of Akragas lost and were forced to move to away. Eventually, most of the residents returned to Akragas, but the town was under the rule of Carthage. The area lay quiet until the mid to early 200’s BC. Forced into the First & Second Punic Wars, Akragas was eventually captured & taken over by the Romans in 210BC.
Since the first change of hands, Akragas has had a few name changes and rulers. The temples erected so long ago suffered considerable damage not only from the wars but from earthquakes as well. An archaeologist, Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta, took note of the site in the early 1800’s and dedicated his time, effort and money to excavate and renovate the temples.
In 1966, the temples were designated as a Zone of National Interest. In 1997, UNESCO declared the Valle dei Templi a World Heritage Site. The ruins are considered to be the best example of an ancient Greek city located outside of Greece.
Why It’s Worth the Visit
The temples and remains of Valle dei Templi are spectacular. We have not visited Greece, so we admit we may have an additional fascination with the temples. The unbelievable amount of time and effort that was put in to restore the ruins and recapture a bit of history is astounding.
Seven of the eight main temples are found within the park located on top of a ridge overlooking the present day city of Agrigento and the Mediterranean Sea. The views of the surrounding area are beautiful and well worth the drive up the hill if you have no plans to visit the temples.
Some temples are in better shape than others, but part of the interest is to see the “ruins” in their various levels of presence. Each location provides a history plaque detailing relevant information.
The site is packed with history, which can be a bit overwhelming. I recommend reading up a bit on the ancient city of Akragas before arriving to help take in the experience better.
Valle dei Templi was easily our favorite historical site we visited on Sicily.
Things to Know Before Arriving
How to Get There
Car: The best option is to rent a car in either Palermo or Catania. This will give you the most freedom to explore the area.
Bus: There are several buses daily from both Palermo and Catania. Palermo will give you the best options as it has direct buses, while if you are leaving from Catania you will have to switch. Companies include SAIS Autolinee from Catania and either Cuffaro or Camilleri Argento & Lattuca from Palermo.
Train: Trenitalia services Agrigento from both Palermo and Catania. Although similarly to the bus, there are more direct options from Palermo.
How to Get Around
Ticket office and parking spaces are located on the Southwest corner and Northeast corner of the park. The property is split into 2 zones, Eastern and Western. I recommend visiting both zones. If you only have time for one then choose the Eastern Zone because it has more intact temples.
The ancient city sits on both sides of one main path. I recommend picking the end you want to park/enter at, walking all the way to the opposite far end and making your way back to where you entered. You are then able to work yourself back & forth, off the main path to see the points, which interest you. This also puts you in the position for a shorter walk at the end of the day when you are most hot and tired.
The Eastern Zone contains three fairly well intact temples, tombs, an 800-year-old olive tree, and magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea. The highlights are the Tempio de Giunione Lucina (Temple of Juno Lacinia) and the Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Concordia). The latter, built in 430BC this structure has withstood the wars and earthquakes, unlike the others. Restored to its current glory in 1748, the Tempio della Concordia serves as the logo for the UNESCO organization.
I found the Western Zone to be fascinating because of the Olympieion Field (section containing large area where Temple of the Olympian Zeus would have been), Tempi de Eracle (Temple of Heracles) and the replica statue of an atlas. Unfortunately, due to the wars and earthquakes, this section is more in disrepair.
Tips for Your Visit
- Plan for 2 hours at the very minimum. If you want to get the most out of the Valley of the Temples, set aside at least 4 hours or more.
- Take your time. Read the history plaques. The information is quite interesting.
- Take breaks under the shade trees to help keep your stamina up.
- Stop and take in the views of the Mediterranean Sea and the city below.
What to Bring
- Water – Water is available for purchase at both entrances/exits but is not available within the park.
- Hat or Umbrella for shade – the sun is hot
- Extra Batteries
- Good walking shoes – the property spans over 1300 hectares
- Snacks – Snacks are available for purchase at both entrances/exits, but none are available within the park.
Hours: 8.30am-7pm year-round, plus 7.30-10pm Mon-Fri, 7.30-11pm Sat & Sun mid-Jul–mid-Sep
Prices: adult/reduced €10/5, incl. Museo Archeologico €13.50/7
4 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. For the traveler who likes – adventure, UNESCO, historical, bucket lister, culture, architecture
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