Italy Agrigento The Temple of Castor and Pollux in The Valley of The Temples

Luigi Petro

Croydon, United Kingdom

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Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian) is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragras (a.k.a. Acragas in Greek, Agrigentum in Latin, and Kerkent in Arabic), one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece.Agrigento was founded on a plateau overlooking the sea, with two nearby rivers, the Hypsas and the Akragas, and a ridge to the north offering a degree of natural fortification. Its establishment took place around 582-580 BC and is attributed to Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas. The meaning of the word is unclear, though the stock commonplace referred to an eponymous legendary founder, an Akragante, apparently no more than a retrospective myth for an obscure name.Akragas grew rapidly, becoming one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. It came to prominence under the sixth-century tyrants Phalaris and Theron, and became a democracy after the overthrow of Theron’s son Thrasydaeus. Although the city remained neutral in the conflict between Athens and Syracuse, its democracy was overthrown when the city was sacked by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. Akragas never fully recovered its former status, though it revived to some extent under Timoleon in the latter part of the fourth century.Ancient Akragas covers a huge area — much of which is still unexcavated today — but is exemplified by the famous Valle dei Templi (“Valley of the Temples”, a misnomer, as it is a ridge, rather than a valley). This comprises a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city where seven monumental Greek temples in the Doric style were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Now excavated and partially restored, they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself. They are listed as a World Heritage Site.

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