Agrigento archaeological sites

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Agrigento archaeological sites
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem

Agrigento sanctuary of the chthonic deities.jpg
Dioskurentempel and sanctuary of the chthonic deities in Agrigento
National territory: ItalyItaly Italy
Type: Culture
Criteria : (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
Surface: 934 ha
Buffer zone: 1,869 ha
Reference No .: 831
UNESCO region : Europe and North America
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 1997  (session 21)

The Valley of Tempi south of the present town center of Agrigento are amongst the most impressive archaeological sites in Sicily . Above all, they show the remains of Akragas ( Latin: Agrigentum), one of the most important ancient Greek cities in Sicily. The Greek temples , some of which are still very well preserved, testify to the size, power and cultural heyday of the Greek city of that time.

Akragas was not until 582 BC. BC was founded in a second wave of Greek colonization , but soon developed into the second most important Greek polis in Sicily after Syracuse , especially through the victory in the battle of Himera . This importance found its expression in a number of monumental temples that were built in the course of the 5th century BC. Were built along the southern city wall on a ridge, which in archaeological terminology has the name "hill of temples" ( Italian : Collina dei Templi), but popularly (due to its location below today's city of Agrigento) as "valley the temple "(Italian: Valle dei Templi) is called. The term “Valley of the Temples” is often used generically for all of Agrigento's archaeological sites.

The Temple of Concordia, which is one of the best-preserved temples of ancient Greece, and the remains of the other temples were also a reason why the archaeological sites of Agrigento became popular with many people interested in ancient Greek culture from the mid-18th century became an integral part of an educational trip to southern Italy. Even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "portrays in his work travel Italian " his visit these sites.

In 1997, UNESCO declared the archaeological sites of Agrigento a World Heritage Site on the grounds that Akragas “was one of the greatest cities of antiquity in the Mediterranean and has been preserved in an exceptionally good condition. His magnificent row of Doric temples is one of the most outstanding monuments for Greek art and culture. "


Plan by Robert Koldewey

The city of Akragas was built on a limestone plateau near the southwest coast of Sicily . This high plateau slopes steeply on three sides and therefore offered a good defense for the city. The river San Biagio (then called Akragas) flows east of the plateau, to the west the river Sant'Anna (then called Hypsas). Both rivers join south of the plateau and flow into the sea about 4 km away.

The plateau has an approximately rectangular plan with a size of 2.2 × 1.6 km. Its surface is not flat, but forms a kind of trough that runs in an east-west direction. In the north and northeast the Athena rock (Rupe Atenea) closes the plateau. In the northwest, the plateau is joined by an elongated ridge, the Girgenti Hill, on which the Acropolis stood in archaic times and on which the historic city center of Agrigento stands today. In the south, the plateau is bounded by a lower ridge, on the edge of which a number of temples are lined up. Since this range of hills lies in the valley, seen from the medieval city center on the Girgenti hill, it is somewhat misleadingly referred to as the "Valley of the Temples" ( Italian : "Valle dei Templi").


Archaic time

Akragas 406 BC Chr.

Akragas is the youngest of the major Greek cities in Sicily. The city was founded around 582 BC. Founded jointly by settlers from Gela and Rhodes under the Oikists Aristonos and Pystillos. It is assumed that the area already belonged to Gela's sphere of influence and that there was a trading post ( Emporion ) here on the coast , otherwise the settlers from Megara Hyblaea would not have had to move so far to the west for their much older re-establishment of Selinunte .

Phalaris, first tyrant of Akragas (16th century engraving)

Soon after the city was founded, Phalaris was able to seize power. By embezzling money that was intended for the construction of a temple, he recruited mercenaries and made himself the sole ruler ( tyrant ) of the city in a coup . He ruled around 570–555 BC. And was notorious for its cruelty. He extended his sphere of influence far inland.

The massive city wall of Akragas was probably built in his time. It essentially follows the outer edges of the plateau, but also encloses the Girgenti hill. It has a length of 12 km and includes an area of ​​4.5 km². Nine gates, using a natural depression or a small valley, led into the city. Some of these gates were flanked by towers. The road to the harbor led through the main gate (Gate IV), which was located in the south wall and was called Porta Aurea in Roman times . The road to the mother city of Gela led through Gate I in the east.

On the Acropolis , which stretched over the Girgenti hill and the Athena rock, were built in the 6th century BC. A temple of Zeus and at the beginning of the 5th century BC. A temple of Athena built. Towards the end of the 6th century BC The Temple of Heracles was built near the south wall east of the Porta Aurea.

The city developed in the depression between the Acropolis and the south wall. It was crossed by six main streets (Plateiai) roughly in an east-west direction, which were crossed at right angles by numerous secondary streets (Stenopoi) . This resulted in elongated blocks of flats that ran roughly in a north-south direction.

Outside the city walls, farmland was reclaimed and forts protected against attacks. The city owed its prosperity to the cultivation of wheat, oil and almond trees as well as sheep farming.

Theron , who lived in 488 BC. Became the tyrant of Akragas, expanded his sphere of influence and made Akragas the second most important city in Sicily after Syracuse . In 483 he drove the ruler Terillos out of Himera and took power there. Terillos asked the Carthaginians for help, but they were defeated in the battle of Himera by Theron and his son-in-law Gelon , the tyrant of Syracuse.

Classic time

Statue of an Ephebe 480-470 BC Chr.

The wealth of Akragas increased considerably through the spoils of war won in the battle of Himera, the prisoners of war working as slaves and the reparations that Carthage had to pay. This can also be seen in the construction projects that have been tackled. Theron began to build the gigantic temple of Olympian Zeus on the south wall west of the Porta Aurea. Pindar , who stayed at Theron for a time, described Akragas as "the most beautiful of the mortal cities".

After Theron's death and the expulsion of his son Thrasydaios , Akragas became a democracy. The cultural heyday lasted through the entire 5th century. The city's wealth at this time was largely based on trade. In the second half of the 5th century, the majority of the temples were built on the south wall, which gave visitors arriving from the sea an impressive first impression of the city's wealth. The Akragas philosopher Empedocles wrote at the time that the people of Akragas enjoyed the luxury of having to die tomorrow, but building structures as if they would live forever.

When the Carthaginians, called for help by Segesta , in 409 BC Began a major offensive against the Greek cities of Sicily, Akragas was also 406 BC. Chr. Conquered and destroyed. After the Carthaginians in 406 BC After having made peace with Dionysius I of Syracuse , the inhabitants of Akragas were allowed to return to their city. They were not allowed to fortify the city again and were obliged to pay tributes to Carthage. In the following years Akragas sank to an insignificant village. Although the city was later rebuilt, despite all efforts, it was never able to regain its former size.

Hellenistic period

Hellenistic residential area

After Timoleon conquered the Carthaginians in 340 BC. BC in the Battle of the Krimisos and pushed back to Western Sicily, he brought new settlers to Akragas to make it a functioning polis again. The new houses were built on the foundations of the destroyed old buildings. The already existing Hippodamian scheme of the main and secondary streets running at right angles to each other was adopted.

In the 3rd century BC The tyrant Phintias (289–279 BC) brought Gela , the mother city of Akragas, under his rule. He had Gela destroyed and resettled its residents on the site of today's Licata .

In the first Punic War , Akragas was killed in 261 BC Conquered and destroyed by the Romans, and its inhabitants were sold into slavery. 255 BC Akragas was recaptured by the Carthaginians, which brought further destruction. Akragas finally came under Roman rule in 210 BC. And became a tributary civitas .

Roman time

Roman sarcophagus

The Romans renamed the city Agrigentum and populated it with new settlers. The residential and public buildings sprawled in the depression over the remains of the Greek city. The Romans did not build their own large temples, but rebuilt some of the destroyed temples and dedicated them to Roman gods.

In the course of the administrative reform of Augustus , Agrigento received the status of a municipality . During the imperial period , Agrigentum developed again into a wealthy and important city. When the vandals invaded from 439 onwards, there was again destruction.

During the Byzantine period, the city became more and more depopulated and again became an insignificant village. Before the threat from the Arabs , who raided Sicily at the beginning of the 8th century, the inhabitants withdrew from the ancient city area to the Girgenti Hill.

Reception in modern times

In the Middle Ages and in modern times , the ancient buildings received little attention. They fell into disrepair and were often used simply as a quarry. Only the Concordia temple was used until the 17th century after it was converted into a church, and so it remained almost intact. It was only in the 18th century when classicism reawakened general interest in Greek antiquity that the ancient sites of ancient Akragas also received more attention. At that time, the Temple of Concordia was returned to its original state as a temple, and the columns and architrave on the north side of the Temple of Hera were erected again. As Greece was then part of the Ottoman Empire and therefore much more difficult to travel to, many people interested in ancient Greek culture went to southern Italy and Sicily to visit the former Greek colonies. The archaeological sites of Agrigento were an integral part of these trips.

Painting of the Temple Mound by Jacob Philipp Hackert 1778

In Germany, the ancient sites became known in the 18th century primarily through Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Italian trip and Johann Gottfried Seumes' walk to Syracuse . The draftsman Christoph Heinrich Kniep , who accompanied Goethe on his Italian journey, and the painters Jacob Philipp Hackert and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller created pictures of the ancient buildings, and Johann Joachim Winckelmann wrote the notes on the architecture of the temples at Grigenti in Sicily . Architects and building researchers such as Leo von Klenze , Friedrich von Gärtner and Karl Friedrich Schinkel also visited Agrigento on their study trips through southern Italy and Sicily.

Systematic investigations of the ancient sites were then carried out in the 19th century. The first extensive excavations were carried out under Serradifalco in the 1830s . At this time the corner of the Dioskur temple was also rebuilt. However, this reconstruction is nowadays considered to be wrong in the professional world, since elements from neighboring buildings (possibly of Temple L) from different stylistic epochs were apparently used. The painters who depicted the sites in the 19th century include Caspar David Friedrich ( Juno Temple in Agrigento ) and Christian Wilberg .

Plan of the old Akragas by Julius Schubring

Julius Schubring described the location of the ancient sites in his Historical Topography . In the 1990s Robert Koldewey and Otto Puchstein undertook two trips to southern Italy and Sicily, during which they also measured and described the temples of Akragas. Robert Koldewey made views and schematic drawings of the temples. Their joint two-volume work The Greek Temples in Lower Italy and Sicily became a standard work for the scientific investigation of ancient sites that is largely still valid today.

Further excavations were carried out in the 1920s under the direction of Pirro Marconi . At this time the eight columns on the south side of the Temple of Heracles were erected again. This work was sponsored by Sir Alexander Hardcastle , who put all his fortune into the service of archeology.

With the construction of the Archaeological Museum in 1968, the collections of finds from ancient sites, previously distributed at various locations, were made accessible to the public at a central location.

Excavations are still being carried out, which, in addition to details, occasionally also reveal major surprises. So was z. B. 1989 during excavations north of the Archaeological Museum found the Buleuterion .

Maintenance beginning of the 21st century

Color reconstruction of the Concordia Temple
(photo 2006)
Color after the protective coating against environmental damage and weathering at the Concordia temple
(photo 2014)

Since the temples of Akragas are made of limestone, they are sensitive to environmental influences and weathering. In 2005, with the help of funding from the European Union , extensive repair work began, which lasted until 2007. This is to protect the building fabric from further deterioration.

The temples were scaffolded during the repair work. As a consolation for visitors, a reconstruction of the original color scheme of the temple was depicted on the tarpaulin of the scaffolding of the Concordia temple.

The archaeological sites are not only threatened by the deterioration of the building stock, but also by the fact that parts of the ancient city area have been designated as building land and are partially already built on. Illegal buildings were also erected there. This sparked a discussion on how the ancient sites can be better protected and the building sins of the past eliminated.

Special features of the temple

Most of the temples of Akragas are like the majority of the Greek temples in Sicily of the type of a Doric ring hall temple ( Peripteros ). The inner building (the naos with the cella ) is surrounded by a series of columns that support the beams and the roof.

The oldest temples of Akragas were built in the 6th century BC. On the Acropolis, which stretched over the Girgenti hill and the Athena rock. In the 5th century BC Then a series of temples was built on the southern ridge along the city wall, which when viewed from the sea formed an impressive silhouette.

In contrast to the temples on the Acropolis of Athens, which are built of marble , for the temples of Agrigento the building material used was limestone , which was quarried in the nearby river valley of the Akragas. At the end of the construction work, the limestone was covered with a layer of stucco to give it a marble-like appearance. Some structural elements of the temples were designed in color.

Concordia temple, floor plan by Robert Koldewey

In contrast to the temples of the Greek motherland, the temples of Akragas, like in most other cities of Magna Graecia, are frontal in their design. The front, mostly the east side, is provided with a wide flight of stairs , and in front of it stands a large sacrificial altar , which is still particularly impressive at the Hera temple. The communal ceremonies took place around this altar, and cattle sacrifices were offered to the gods on it.

Most of the temples from the classical era of Akragas have, as was customary in the Greek motherland, a columned hall with 6 columns on the narrow and 13 columns on the long sides, whereas otherwise in Sicily they are longer structures with 6 × 14 or even 6 × 15 columns were common. The pronaos and cella are separated from each other by two large pillars, inside of which stairs lead up to the roof. Most of the temples of Akragas lack the Adyton , which is otherwise common in Sicily .

The Olympieion is a special form, which also contains Carthaginian elements (e.g. pillars instead of columns) and was intended to glorify the victory of the Greeks over the Carthaginians.

Most of the names of the temples date back to the time of Renaissance humanism . Their assignment to Greek or Roman gods is partly historically guaranteed (e.g. with the Temple of Heracles and the Olympieion), partly reconstructed on the basis of the consecration gifts found there (e.g. with the Demeter temple and the sanctuary of the chthonic deities), partly questionable (e.g. B. at the Temple of Hera) and sometimes completely arbitrarily (e.g. at the Dioskuren and Concordia temples). The Italian archaeologist Pirro Marconi therefore introduced designations with letters during his excavations in the 1920s, as they are also used in Selinunte . In Agrigento, however, these could not generally prevail over the traditional names. Even the assignment of temples attempted by Biagio Pace on the basis of traditional cults (e.g. Temple of Hera - Poseidon, Temple of Concordia - Dioscuri) could not displace the general use of language.

The following table gives a chronological overview of the temples of Akragas. The base area means the dimensions (front width × side length) of the stylobate . Figures marked with * are reconstructed values, as the stylobate has not been preserved.

temple place Time of origin Construction type Floor space columns Remarks
Temple of Zeus acropolis 6th century BC Chr. presumed under the Cathedral of San Gerlando
Temple of Heracles (Temple A) Archaeological Park "Valley of the Temples" around 500 BC Chr. Doric peripteros 25.34 x 67.00 m 6 × 15 8 columns erected in the 20th century ( floor plan )
Athena Temple (Temple E) acropolis Early 5th century BC Chr. Doric peripteros 15.10 x 34.70 m 6 × 13 overbuilt with church S. Maria dei Greci ( floor plan )
Olympieion (Temple B) Archaeological Park "Valley of the Temples" around 480 BC Chr. Doric temple with pseudoperistasis 56.30 x 112.60 m 7 × 14 Pseudoperistasis of pillars with pre-blinded half-columns, gaps closed by walls, telamons carry the entablature ( floor plan , elevation , model )
Demeter Temple (Temple C) acropolis 480-470 BC Chr. Doric Ante Temple 13.30 x 30.20 m - overbuilt with church S. Biagio ( floor plan )
Dioskurentempel (Temple I) Archaeological Park "Valley of the Temples" Middle of the 5th century BC Chr. Doric peripteros 13.86 × 31.70 m 6 × 13 Corner rebuilt in the 19th century
Temple L Archaeological Park "Valley of the Temples" Middle of the 5th century BC Chr. Doric peripteros 17.20 × 38.80 m * 6 × 13
Temple of Hera (Temple D) Archaeological Park "Valley of the Temples" 460-450 BC Chr. Doric peripteros 16.90 x 38.15 m 6 × 13 Columns and architrave on the north side erected again in the 18th century ( floor plan )
Temple of Asclepius (Temple H) south of the ancient city 2nd half of 5th century BC Chr. Doric temple with pseudo-opisthodoma 10.70 × 21.70 m -
Concordia Temple (Temple F) Archaeological Park "Valley of the Temples" around 440 BC Chr. Doric peripteros 16.92 x 39.44 m 6 × 13 best preserved Greek temple in Sicily ( floor plan , color reconstruction )
Hephaestus Temple (Temple G) South-west corner of the ancient city around 430 BC Chr. Doric peripteros 17.06 × 35.19 m * 6 × 13
Oratory of the Phalaris Poggetto San Nicola 2nd century BC Chr. ionic prostylos 5.30 x 8.50 m 4th

Archaeological Park "Valley of the Temples"

The archeology and landscape park "Valley of the Temples" ( Parco Archaeologico e Paesaggistico della Valle dei Templi di Agrigento , or Parco Valle dei Templi Agrigento ) contains the most important remains of the ancient Akragas, the row of temples along the southern city wall. The sanctuary of the chthonic deities, which dates back to before the Greek settlement, is also included there.

Didrachm, approx. 490–483 BC With eagle, lettering "AKRA" and crayfish

The term "Valley of the Temples" (Valle dei Templi) is misleading, as the park extends on a high plateau opposite the surroundings and mainly includes its southern range of hills. The name arose from the view of today's city, which extends over the former acropolis and from which the temples actually stand on the edge of a valley. The name is used partly only for the row of temples along the southern city wall and partly for the entire urban area of ​​the old Akragas south of the Acropolis.

The park's logo shows a crab, the symbol of the river god Akragas, after whom the ancient Greek city is named. This symbol can also be found on many coins from ancient Akragas.

The park is divided in half by the Via Passegiata Archeologica, which runs through the former Gate IV. There is also a parking lot and access to both halves of the park. In the western part there are mainly the temples of Olympian Zeus and Dioscuri and the sanctuary of the chthonic deities, in the eastern part the temples of Hercules, Concordia and Hera.


Debris field of the Olympieion

Behind the entrance to the western part of the park you come across the huge debris field of the Olympieion (also called the Temple of Olympian Zeus ). The tyrant Theron had this temple built around 480 BC. After the victory over the Carthaginians in the battle of Himera . He was supposed to glorify the victory of the Greek spirit over the barbarians. The dedication of the temple to Zeus is attested by the historian Diodorus , who left a description of the temple. With a dimension of the stylobate of 52.74 × 110.10 m, the Olympieion of Akragas was the largest temple in the Doric style and the third largest Greek temple of antiquity. To the east of the temple you can still see the mighty sacrificial altar on which the hecatomb , the simultaneous sacrifice of 100 bulls, was offered.

The base ( Krepis ) of the temple consisted of five steps. In the floor plan (see illustration ) the temple echoes the Carthaginian construction principle of the pillar hall. The cella consisted of two rows of 12 pillars each about 21 m high, which were connected by walls that reached about half the height of the pillars. The ring hall consisted of 7 × 14 pillars about 17 m high, with half-columns in front of them, which at their lower end had a diameter of about 4 m. The pillars were connected by a continuous wall, which is why one speaks here of a pseudoperipteros . The ring hall of the temple was covered, while the cella is assumed to be open at the top. Since the center of the temple facade was obstructed by a pillar, access is via two small portals on the corner yokes of the east facade, so that you first got into the side aisles. Another small entrance is believed to be in the middle yoke on the south side.

Replica of a Telamon

Another special feature of this temple were the almost 8 m high figures of giants, the so-called telamons , which were set up in the upper area of ​​the walls and carried the weight of the entablature (see illustration ). The Telamons had Carthaginian features and symbolized the inferior barbarians who had to do slave labor for the superior Greeks. The portrayal of the battle of the Olympic gods against the giants in the gable of the east gable alluded to this. The painter and archaeologist Rafaello Politi had one of these telamons reassembled on the floor in 1825. The copy lying there today is a replica, the original is in the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento.

During the capture of Akragas by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. The temple, which had not yet been completed, was destroyed in the 2nd century BC. Because of this, and because the temple was built from relatively small blocks that could be easily reused, only the foundation walls and a few remains of columns and capitals are left of the once monumental Olympieion.


Erected corner of the Dioskurentempel (photo 2008)
Dioskurentempel with colored protective coating (photo 2014)

To the west of the Olympieion, an urban area with the remains of residential buildings extends to the former Gate V. North of Olympieion a procession road leads to this residential area along and abuts the target V on the Dioskurentempel . The name was given arbitrarily. It is known from ancient sources that the Dioscuri , i.e. the twin brothers Castor and Pollux , were venerated in Akragas . According to more recent findings, however, the temple known today as the "Concordia Temple" was probably dedicated to them.

The Dioskurentempel was around the middle of the 5th century BC. Peripteros built in the Doric style with a floor plan similar to the Temple of Concordia . In the 19th century, the north-west corner was rebuilt by the sculptor Valerio Villareale and the architect Saverio Cavallari . Although this reconstruction looks very picturesque and has developed into a landmark and one of the most photographed objects in Agrigento, it is rejected in the professional world because components from different stylistic epochs were mixed together. The numerous fluted column drums that originally formed the pillars of the ring hall are distributed across the temple grounds. The altar can still be seen to the east of the temple.

Sanctuary of the chthonic deities

Altars in the sanctuary of the chthonic deities

The Dioskurentempel stands on a temenos , which is the oldest known place of worship in Agrigento. The Greeks worshiped their gods here even before the great temples were built, and this place was probably already used as a place of worship by the Sikanas .

On this Temenos there are the remains of another Peripteros (Temple L) south of the Dioskurentempel, which was built shortly after this and has a similar floor plan, but is somewhat larger. These two temples were probably built over the remains of older cult sites.

Reconstruction of the sanctuary of the chthonic deities by Pirro Marconi

In the northern part of the sanctuary there are still foundations of such places of worship, which date from the first half of the 6th century BC. BC, so were built soon after the city was founded. The Greeks worshiped the earthly ( chthonic ) gods here, above all the earth mother and fertility goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone , but also Hecate and Hades . Therefore this area is called the sanctuary of the chthonic deities .

In the middle of these places of worship are a round and a square altar. The round altar has a depression in the middle, which was probably used to make liquid offerings or to collect the blood of the sacrificed animals. Around these altars there are buildings in the shape of a megaron with pronaos , naos and adyton , two in an east-west direction and one in a north-south direction. The latter is followed by a cult building with a transverse cella , which has a vestibule, the front of which is formed by four pillars. In the north there is another labyrinth-like cult building with a square altar in a side room and a round altar in the last accessible room.

Kolymbéthra Gardens

To the north-west of the sanctuary of the chthonic deities, a valley basin that formed the natural drainage for the high plateau of the ancient city cuts through the southern range of hills. It is believed that the large water basin known as Kolymbéthra was also located here, which was used to supply the city with water. It was probably built under Theron .

After the basin silted up , fertile orchards and vegetable gardens emerged, the Kolymbéthra Gardens . Today you can find lemon and orange trees, prickly pear cactus as well as almond and olive trees, some of which are several centuries old. The underground water channels and aqueducts that supplied the city with water in ancient times can still be seen today and are now used to irrigate the gardens.

Temple of Heracles

Temple of Heracles

If you return to the entrance and go across the street to the eastern part of the park, you will first see the remains of the Temple of Heracles , which was right next to Gate IV (Porta Aurea). The dedication of this temple to Heracles is attested by Marcus Tullius Cicero , who lived in 75 BC. Chr. Quaestor in Sicily was. In one of his indictment speeches against Gaius Verres , he tells of a huge bronze statue of Heracles inside a temple near the agora (meaning the lower agora, which was located north of Gate IV). The statue was worn on the lips and chin from the pilgrims' touch, and Verres is said to have planned its robbery.

The Temple of Heracles is the oldest temple on the southern city wall and dates from the archaic period at the beginning of the 5th century BC. BC It rests on a three-tier base. Its floor plan (see illustration ) shows the elongation of the ring hall with 6 × 15 columns, which is otherwise common in Sicily, but unusual for the temples in Agrigento. The front and rear hall (the space between the pronaos or opisthodom and the front or rear row of columns) has a depth of 2 column yokes. The temple of Heracles lacks the Adyton that is otherwise common in Sicily .

Debris of the temple is scattered over the whole area, including, for example, some capitals that are still clad with stucco, as it once covered the whole temple. The eight columns on the south side were erected again in 1924, the column stub on the north side in the 19th century.

There are also grinding marks near the temple .

Concordia temple

Concordia temple, photo from the 19th century.

The so-called Concordia temple, along with the Theseion in Athens and the Poseidon temple in Paestum, is one of the best preserved temples of ancient Greece. It was named arbitrarily after a Roman inscription found nearby, which speaks of unity ( lat. Concordia ) among the inhabitants of Agrigentum. It is not known to which Greek deity the sanctuary was dedicated.

The temple was built around 440-430 BC. Built in BC. As it stands on very uneven terrain, it is built on a base that compensates for the unevenness of the rock. Its floor plan (see illustration ) corresponds to the form of the classical period typical of Agrigento, as described above , with pronaos, naos, opisthodom and a portico of 6 × 13 columns.

Concordia Temple 2012

The Temple of Concordia is the most precisely executed temple of Akragas, the fluctuation of the yoke widths is only 5 mm. The Doric corner conflict is solved in an unusual way: all four corners show a double corner contraction, i.e. H. the two outer pillar yokes are gradually made narrower, and a harmonious effect is achieved through a likewise gradual broadening of the metopes at the edge. According to the current state of research, the lower part of the temple was clad with white stucco, but the frieze and pediment were painted with strong colors. The roof tiles were made of marble.

Bishop Gregorius of Agrigentum had the temple converted into a Christian basilica in 597 and consecrated to the apostles Peter and Paul. The cella walls were broken through with 6 arches on each side and the spaces between the columns walled up, as can still be seen today at the cathedral of Syracuse . The entrance was moved to the west side, for which the partition between the Naos and Opisthodom was removed. The sacristy was housed in the former pronaos. Statues of two Punic idols were found inside the temple , which were removed. It is therefore believed that two gods were worshiped here as early as Greek times and that this is the temple that was originally dedicated to the Dioscuri.

The church continued to be used after the city was abandoned until the 17th century. In 1748 it was profaned and then largely restored to its original state.

Early Christian necropolis

Early Christian necropolis

There is an early Christian necropolis around the Concordia temple . The earliest graves are located between the Temple of Concordia and the Temple of Heracles and date from the period between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, the youngest graves date from the 9th century AD.

The graves are dug into the limestone of the hill range and widen downwards. There are also shorter graves for those who were buried in an embryo position.

A corridor dividing the necropolis into two sectors leads into a catacomb from the 4th to 5th centuries called Fragapanegrotte. Arch-shaped burial niches called arcosols are cut into the walls of this catacomb . However, the catacomb is not open to the public.

city ​​wall

City wall with arcosol tombs

In the vicinity of the Concordia temple there are still particularly impressive remains of the old city wall. Here on the south side of the city it was partly not built from blocks of stone, but rather carved out of the rock ridge by removing both sides vertically. At the base, these remains of the wall are a little more than 1 m thick. Arcosol tombs from the Byzantine period are cut into the inside of the wall .

Temple of Hera

Temple of Hera

The last temple in the series is the Temple of Hera on the southeast corner of the high plateau, also called the Temple of Hera Lakinia (or Iuno Lacinia). However, it is unknown to which deity the temple was actually dedicated. Its assignment to Hera is based on a confusion with the Hera temple on Capo Lacinio near the Calabrian city ​​of Crotone .

The Temple of Hera was built around 460 to 450 BC. Erected as a Doric peripteros with 6 × 13 columns. It rises on a four-level substructure ( Krepis ), which, like the Concordia Temple, is built on a base to level the terrain. Its floor plan (see illustration ) roughly corresponds to that of the Concordia Temple. However, the Doric corner conflict has been resolved in a different way: north, west and south sides have a simple corner contraction, i.e. H. only the outermost pillar yoke was narrowed, on the front side (east side), however, no corner contraction was carried out, but the central yoke was widened.

The temple was built around 406 BC. Burned down by the Carthaginians. In the first century BC It was restored by the Romans . Instead of the original marble tiles, clay tiles were used to cover the building.

The erection of the columns began as early as the 18th century. Today 25 of the former 34 pillars of the ring hall stand. The columns on the northern long side all have their capitals and an architrave . The foundations of the cella and the stumps between the ante walls of the Pronaos and Opisthodom have been preserved.

In front of the east side of the temple is the altar , which at 29.3 × 10 m is almost as large as the cella (but stands across it). A cistern was found near the back (west side) of the temple .

Poggetto San Nicola

Inner courtyard of the Archaeological Museum

In the middle of the ancient city area rises a small hill called Poggetto San Nicola (Hill of San Nicola). The Archaeological Museum and the Church of San Nicola stand on it . In the Hellenistic-Roman period, the administrative center of the ancient city was located here, from which several public buildings such as B. the Ekklesiasterion and the Buleuterion are excavated. The so-called "high" agora is also suspected here, while the so-called "lower" agora was at the foot of the southern range of hills north of the Temple of Hercules.

The Archaeological Museum was established in 1967. It was partly on the remains of a monastery of Cistercian built in the 13th century. It mainly shows finds from Agrigento and its surroundings from prehistory and early history to Roman times. In the entrance room, a model shows the topography of ancient Akragas. The exhibits include: numerous red and black-figure Greek vases , lion heads from the various temples that were attached to the Traufsima as gargoyles , votive offerings from the sanctuaries, mosaics from the floors of excavated houses. The best-known exhibits are: a Telamon from Olympieion, a marble figure of an Ephebe and a Roman child's coffin with marble reliefs showing the grieving parents and scenes from the child's life.

San Nicola

The Church of San Nicola was the original monastery church of the Cistercians. Like the monastery, it dates back to the 13th century and has a Romanesque facade with two ante pillars and a pointed arched portal as well as a cornice above it, which divides the facade horizontally. A Roman sarcophagus from the 2nd to 3rd centuries known as the " sarcophagus of Phaedra " is on display in a side chapel - supposedly temporarily until the reopening of the consolidated diocesan museum . His marble reliefs show the story of Phaedra's unrequited love for her stepson Hippolytus and the death of Hippolytus.

Ekklasiasterion and Oratory of the Phalaris

South of the museum is the Ekklesiasterion , the seat of the Ekklesia , the popular assembly in the Hellenistic period. In the slope of the hill, 20 rows of seats were carved out of the rock in an approximately semicircle concentric around a central, round speaker's platform. The Ekklesiasterion has a diameter of about 48 m. About 3,000 people found space here.

The so-called Oratory of the Phalaris is built on the edge of the Ekklesiasterion and partly above its rows of seats . The attribution to the archaic tyrant was wrongly based on reports that mention a palace of the Phalaris at this point. The building that stands today, however, dates from the 2nd century BC. And is the only cult building newly built by Agrigentum during Roman times. Originally the building was a prostylus in the Ionic architectural style , which was erected on a base and a square altar in front of it. In the 1st century the temple was used as a tomb, and in the Middle Ages it was integrated into the Cistercian monastery as an oratory . The window that was broken out on the west side also dates from this time.


To the north of the museum, the Buleuterion was excavated, which was the meeting place of the Bule , the council that prepared the popular assemblies. Two main construction phases could be identified, the first in the 4th to 3rd centuries during the Hellenistic period and the second later during the Roman period. The Buleuterion was a roughly square building with a semicircular meeting place.

To the east of the hill of San Nicola, part of a Hellenistic-Roman city quarter was excavated. When Timoleon resettled Akragas, the buildings were built on the foundations of buildings in the destroyed city, and the Hippodamian road system was adopted. On the excavated site there are remains of buildings of different construction times and styles, e.g. B. Hellenistic peristyle houses with a courtyard surrounded by columns and Italian atrium houses. A magnificent peristyle house even had its own thermal baths. The houses had mosaic floors , of which the simpler ones, consisting of geometric patterns and ornaments, can still be seen in place, while the more complex ones, e.g. B. a fragment of a mosaic depicting a gazelle has been transferred to the Archaeological Museum. The excavated quarter was inhabited until around the 7th century, when the inhabitants gradually withdrew to the safer Girgenti hill.


The acropolis of the ancient city of Akragas extended over the Athena rock in the north of the city and the Girgenti hill, which adjoined it to the west. Polybius reports that on the summit of the Acropolis there was a temenos with two temples, which were dedicated to Zeus and Athena .

The Temple of Zeus was built according to contemporary reports in the 6th century BC. BC as the oldest temple of Akragas. The remains of this temple are believed to be on the highest elevation of the Girgenti hill under today's Cathedral of San Gerlando. However, there are no archaeological finds to date to confirm this assumption.

S. Maria dei Greci, floor plan by Robert Koldewey

The Temple of Athena was built around 480-460 BC. Erected as a Doric peripterus . A church was probably built on the remains of this temple in Byzantine times. The current church of Santa Maria dei Greci was built around 1200. Parts of the excavated crepes and six Doric column stumps from the north side of the Temple of Athens can be seen today below the church (see floor plan ). So far there is no trace of the cella.

San Biagio (Demeter Temple), engraving after Serradifalco

At the eastern end of the Athens rock (Rupe Atenea) stood the Demeter temple . He was about 480-470 BC. Erected in the form of a Doric temple of Anten . The foundation and part of the walls of the cella have been preserved . The church of San Biagio was built on the foundation and using the remains of the wall in the Middle Ages. The orientation was reversed so that the apse stands between the foundation walls of the ante of the original pronaos (see floor plan ). Round altars and votive pictures found near the temple indicate a worship of the earth goddess Demeter . The numerous oil lamps also found here suggest nocturnal ceremonies.

Below the temple of Demeter is the rock sanctuary of Demeter . In one wall of the Athena rock there are three grottos that are fed by a spring. The water was collected in several interconnected basins. Access to the caves was via a rectangular structure in which the water was also collected and channeled into the tubs below. It is believed that the caves were already a place of worship for the Sikanas who settled in this area before the arrival of the Greeks.

Other structures

On the continuation of the Hill of Temples on the opposite side of the valley from the Kolymbéthra Gardens is the Temple of Hephaestus . It was still inside the ancient city wall, but is no longer included in the "Valle dei Templi" archaeological park. The entrance to the temple of Hephaestus is on the road to the district Villaseta approx. 1 km west of the tomb of Theron. From the temple of Hephaestus you have a very nice view of the row of temples of the Valle dei Templi. The temple of Hephaestus is the youngest of the classical temples of Akragas and was built around 430 BC. Built as a Doric peripteros on a four-tier substructure. The cella was built over a much smaller archaic megaron . From the temple of Hephaestus there are only two remains of columns. Since they are only partially fluted, it can be assumed that the new building of the temple was not yet completed when the Carthaginians in 406 BC. BC Akragas destroyed.

Outside the ancient city, in front of Gate IV (Porta Aurea), there was a large Hellenistic-Roman necropolis called "Necropoli Giambertoni". Most of the graves are simple pits or sarcophagi sunk into the ground , but there are also monumental structures. The so-called Tomb of Theron is located directly outside Gate IV . The assignment was wrongly based on a description of the (no longer preserved) tomb of the tyrant Theron by Diodorus Siculus . The structure still standing today, however, comes from a much later period. It was around 75-70 BC. And was probably a heroon , d. H. a memorial building for an important citizen. The building has a square base with a Doric cornice on which a house-shaped structure is placed. The walls of the structure have false doors and Ionic columns support Doric entablature at the corners.

Asclepius stamp, drawing by Robert Koldewey

The Temple of Asclepius is located further outside the city . The assignment is again passed down by Cicero, who reports of a statue of Apollo , the father of Asclepius , kept here , which Verres had stolen. The temple has the shape of an anteral temple with a pseudo-opisthodom that is about twice as long as it is wide. The vestibule ( pronaos ) is formed by two columns between the protruding side walls ( antennas ), while the rear hall ( opisthodom ) is only simulated by half-columns and pilasters on the rear wall. In more recent excavations, a building complex with a portico, a cistern and 28 rooms for the sick was found around the temple, as is typical for the Asclepius temple.

To the east of the Temple of Hera, at the foot of the high plateau, there is an early Christian basilicula (small basilica, chapel) with a size of 10.45 × 6.80 m. It was probably built as a memorial for martyrs under Emperor Constantine . Today only the foundation and the foundation walls are standing. In the floor there are two trapezoidal graves in which remains of terra sigillata and fragments of a Roman sarcophagus were found.

Individual evidence

  1. Unesco list
  2. ^ Pindar, 12th Pythian Ode, 1 .
  3. Empedocles, Fragments
  4. ^ Goethe, Italian trip .
  5. ^ Johann Gottfried Seume, Walk to Syracuse in 1802 .
  6. B. Pace, Arte e Civiltà, Volume III 1945 pp 587-600
  7. Polybios, Geschichte IX 27,3


Web links

Commons : Archeological Area of ​​Agrigento  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 37 ° 17 ′ 23 "  N , 13 ° 35 ′ 24"  E

This article was added to the list of excellent articles on October 14, 2006 in this version .