Stretched out along a ridge, inappropriately referred to as “valley”, and nestling in the area to the south of it, are a series of temples which were all erected in the course of a century (5C BC), as if to testify to the prosperity of the city at that time.
Info & Booking
Open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 7 pm, Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm.
Cashier closes thirty minutes before the site closure.
Reserved tickets must be picked up showing the confirmation voucher at the bookshop placed at Piazzale Hardcastle.
Cancellation policy: cancellations must be made at least 1 working day before the visit to get the refund of the unused tickets minus the service fee; further cancellations and no shows are not refundable.
Valley of Temples and Kolymbetra Garden
The Valley of the Temples
One of the richest and best preserved examples of Greek art and architecture outside of Greece, and a legacy of Magna Græcia, the Valley of the Temples is also one of the most visited places in Sicily and a national monument of Italy.
The Valley of the Temples is really a ridge – comprising a large area to the south of the ancient city of Agrigento, on the south-western coast of Sicily. Seven monumental temples in the Doric style were constructed here during the 6th and 5th centuries BC, testifying to the city\'s prosperity at the time.
After the Carthaginians partially destroyed the edifices by setting them ablaze in 406 BC, the Romans restored the temples during the 1st century BC.
The subsequent disrepair of the temples has been ascribed partly to seismic activity, and partly to the destruction brought about by early Christians acting upon an edict of Theodosius, Emperor of the Roman Empire, during the 4th century AD.
The only temple to have survived these many centuries practically intact is the Temple of Concord, which was converted into a Christian church during the 6th century AD.
During the Middle Ages, building material was removed from the site to supply the construction of other buildings. In particular the Temple of Zeus , known as the “Giant\'s Quarry,” was plundered for building material for the church of San Nicola and the 18th century part of the jetty at Porto Empedocle.
All the temples face east, according to the both Greek and Roman criterion that the entrance to the cella (Holy of Holies) where the statue of the god was housed could be illuminated by the rays of the rising sun, source of life and representative of the divine.
On the whole, the temples are Doric and conform to the hexastyle format – meaning that six columns create the front part. The Temple of Zeus is an exception to this rule, having seven columns articulating the front wall.
Built of limestone tufa, the temples are a particularly impressive sight at dawn, and even more so at sunset, when they are turned a warm shade of gold.
Now excavated and partially restored, the Temples constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself, and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Kolymbetra Garden
“Kolymbetra” is the name of a large basin in the heart of in the Valley of the Temples. The first settlers of Agrigento created this water basin in this small and verdant valley to irrigate a large garden and orchard, and probably also to farm fish. Later, the Arabs planted many citrus and almond trees.
Through the centuries, the ancient Kolymbetra Garden was left abandoned, until the region of Sicily entrusted It to the FAI (the Italian Environment Fund) in 1999 – which has since then restored the Kolymbetra Garden to its original splendor.
Over the centuries, the Kolymbetra Garden has provided inspiration for many great poets, from Virgil to Pirandello.
Experience a landscape that recounts centuries of history, in the shadow of the Temples: You will find it to be a welcome oasis after the visit of the breathtaking Valley of the Temples. Enjoy the shade, wander among the century-old olive and citrus trees, take in the scent of the almond, brush, and myrtle groves. The garden is still irrigated by the original system which is now some 2,500 years old!
An authentic archaeological and agricultural jewel in the Valley of the Temples, the Kolymbetra Garden is extraordinary in terms of its magnificent natural abundance, as well as in terms of the archaeological findings to that continue to come to light.
Kolymbetra Garden was again selected as one of the top 10 in the 2011 edition of the "Most beautiful Park in Italy" competition.