The unique Unesco-listed valley of the temples of Agrigento: the wonder of the world
We are in the Unesco-listed valley of the temples. Where the sacred places and the temples of the ancient world still stand. The town of Agrigento stands on one ridge. The temples on the other. The lush valley spreads below as far as the eye can see. What draws me in here is the gorgeous landscape and the culture of those who lived here in this landscape. So this place tells a story. The story of what once was. Which means a rich concentration of culture. The underlying notion is that of a civilisation. Because the story of the greek culture is one of human civilisation. And I am looking into history. The history of Sicily.
I do care about humanity. Deeply. So this here taps into everything i am into. And it’s not only the forms. In fact the minute you walk into this land of past greatness, the space is totally blown. It makes you feel humble. It makes you feel like wow.
The Unesco-listed valley of the temples is a story of gods
Sicilians believe that the gods had a huge impact on their land. It is therefore this link between earth and the kingdom of gods that made this landscape. As such they believe the greek goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone were both born in Sicily. Demeter is the goddess of harvest. Whereas Persephone is the goddess of spring growth. It is this undeniable link between the gods, mother land and religion that is engrained in Sicilians. Hence the various temples.
Back then Akragas, the ancien greek city stood in place of the modern Agrigento. As the Greek poet Pindar once said it is “the most beautiful city of mortals”. A paradise dedicated to Demeter and her daughter Persephone. A paradise that houses more temples than the Acropolis of Athens. The greeks build Akragas because of the surrounding fertile soils. It therefore turned Akragas into a powerful city. The most powerful then. The temples were build as religious shrines to the gods. But also as an addition to this display of wealth that was the city. The cherry on the cake. As a consequence poets and artists will flock here to venere Demeter and Persephone.
All temples were built almost simultaneously
They are amongst the most distinctive of ancient civilisation to have populated this island. They are distinctive in the agriculture-based cult that foster their construction.
It’s now mid morning as we stand amongst the ruins. The temples tower above us. The valley at our feet. The huge olive trees, some of them believed to date from the 5th century BC stand proudly. All the temples are very atmospheric. As the light move up, the ambiant light shifts as well. The silhouette of the temples becomes more dramatic. On the horizon stands the temple of Concordia. More powerful. With the change of light, the temples also become even more mysterious. A display of light and colours; One that heightens the timelessness of the ancient culture that this place is. It’s calm and slow.
We are guided into this valley of history. The reality is much more impressive than i had imagined. Overwhelming at times. The heritage here does something to the spirit. It does something to you as a person. It opens you up. Inspires. It provoques. It really makes you question how far people push things. How far people push buttons. Walking around here i can’t help but feel it’s all about context and atmosphere. Of course the aesthetics matter. Mostly it’s an empowering experience. Because this is one of the important stories of our time.
Huge. Clear. Bold
This ruined city is conceived in harmony with its gods and the landscape. Looking at this beautiful panorama is like looking at a herd of peacocks. No disrespect intended of course. Each temple vowing to shine. Or rather to which god it is dedicated to. The most powerful temple is the most elaborate and the most beautiful. And in the best spot spot too. Just like the male peacocks of the herd. It’s easy to imagine how pleasant it would have been to worship here. How pleasant life would have been. War against carthaginians will see the end of this 150 years later.
The Unesco-listed valley of the temples is undoubtedly the most amazing location. And it’s a gripping education. Thousands of years later this culture still lives on. Catholicism here today still carries these myths and beliefs of ancient greeks. The pinacle/highlight for me are the temples in honour of the mother and daughter as well as the temple of Concordia. Majestic. It’s a really special feeling standing here. In between the old stones you can feel the presence of something ethereal. And it is beautiful.
You can follow the remaining of this Sicilian adventure here.
xoxo M. let’s share our travel inspiration