6 days in Sicily-09/24 - 09/29/2017

Day 5-Agrigento, 09/28/2017

Temple of Juna-Necropolis Temple of Concordia Temple of Hercules/Garden Garden part 2/ Temple of Vulcan

Temple of Hercules-Tempio Di Heracles

Built in about 510 B.C. and itís the oldest monumental temple of Agrigento and it stands on the South end of the Valley. The temple was destroyed by war and natural disasters, today has only eight columns left.

The temple originally had 6 columns on each facade and 15 along the sides.

 

 It is the lowest temple on the ridge and it can be easily recognized as it has only 8 columns, four of which with their capital were reassembled in 1924. In front of the temple you can see few remains of the sacrificial altar and an ancient road.

 

The name temple of Hercules is an attribution of modern scholarship based on Cicero's mention on a temple dedicated to the hero "non longe a for" meaning not far from the agora, containing a famous statue of Hercules. Hercules was the roman name of the Greek demigod Heracles.

He was born mortal as he was an illegitimate child of Zeus and in order to become immortal he had to pass the famous twelve labors. He was the god of strength and protected warriors.

 

8 of its 38 columns were raised during in 1920.

 

Close look at the columns.

 

Columns peaking from the ruins below.

 

Temple of Olympian Zeus-Tempio Di Zeus Olimpico

The temple of Zeus is the largest Doric temple ever built, although never finished, and constructed in 480 BC to celebrate the city-state's victory over Carthage at the battle of Himera. It has since entirely collapsed. The great Doric temple was a massive 361 x 173 feet in area and it was one of largest of antiquity.

The massive, jumbled remains of the temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest ancient Greek temple ever attempted.

 Had it been finished, it would have reigned as the largest Greek, or Roman temple ever constructed.

Remain of the temple of Zeus, an enormous capital on top of a mount of rocks.

Earthquakes and wars brought most of it down, and in the 18th century much of its stone was quarried to build the nearby port of Empedocle.

 

It's hard to imagine the sheer size of the temple as little remains other than a cluster of mounds of ancient rubble.

 

Temple of Castor and Pollux  (Dioscuri)

 

Temple of Dioscuri (Temple of Castor and Pollux) was built in the late 5th century BC, and destroyed by Carthaginians in 406 BC .

The temple was named after the non-identical twins Castor and Pollux together known as the Dioscuri. Their mother was Leda, but they had different fathers. Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta, while Pollux was the divine son of Zeus, who seduced Leda in the guise of a swan.

 

The Temple of Castor and Pollux is not as important as the other temples because the northwest corner was beautifully reconstructed in the 19th century by using the remains of different ancient buildings.

When the British first arrived, the temples were nowhere to be seen. They had to dig out the stones and actually erected the corner of the temple we see today. Trying to reconstruct the site to match expectations, they nevertheless mismatched parts and seemingly even brought together pieces from more than one temple: the Greeks never build the corner as it stand today, but clearly it would be commercial suicide to take it down.

When fully intact, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was a sizable edifice with eight columns in the front and back. The sides had eleven columns each. It stood 50 feet high, plus another 12.5 feet for the entablature (entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals).

At the time the temple of Castor and Pollux was  a very picturesque complex, so much that the temple is used as a symbol of Agrigento (480-460 BC).

 

 

Close look at The temple of Castor and Pollux.

Again looking in the distance is modern Agrigento.

 

More ruins...

 

Garden of Kolybethra (Gaiardino della Kolymbethra)

Beyond the ruins is a pretty green gorge, once a water reservoir and fish-pond for Akragas, said to have constructed by Carthaginian prisoners of war. Until 1998, when FAI (Italian National Trust) signed an agreement with the Sicily Region, under which the latter handed over the area for 25 years in exchange for environmental and landscape restoration of the garden. Nowadays the valley is turned into a charming citrus gardens, the Giardino della Kolymbetra, displaying traditional types of citrus trees, plants and irrigation methods. It's a refreshing and pleasant diversion from the dusty temple landscape above.

Many people visit the Valley of the Temples and completely miss the luscious botanical garden called the Kolymbetra.To get in the garden, you have to pay an extra fee.  Since we are already here, we might as well pay to get in and discover the garden.

Path leading to the main office where tickets are sold.

 

Before you can visit the garden you have to buy a ticket (extra from the entrance fee)

There is also a cave you can visit, also another additional fee but it comes with a tour guide.

The 3 of us (Me, Hoa, and Loan) we opted to just visit the garden, Minh opted to see the garden and the cave.

Entering the garden..

Citrus orchard

The oranges are still green at this time of the year.  Must be a beautiful site when the oranges turned orange.

 

 

The garden is a real oasis, so charming and so peaceful.

 

Our guide telling us the story of how the garden was formed.

What is now a beautiful garden full of citrus and olive trees was once an enormous swimming pool for the Ancient Greek inhabitants of Akragas. Eighteen tunnels fed the pool with water collected from higher ground that had been passed through a complex system of aqueducts.

 

When the Moors arrived in Sicily about 15 centuries later, Agrigento was well past its prime, inhabited by Greek Orthodox Christians who grazed their sheep among the ruins of the noble temples whose purpose they no longer understood. They renamed it Kolybethra and took charge of it.

Luckily, nobody could be bothered to undertake the utterly daunting task of dismantling these monuments to strange gods which had withstood wars, and earthquakes.

 

When they found the Kolymbetra in one corner of its ruins, choked with weeds and a large part filled in with soil for farmland, the Moors saw the potential to create a garden. They brought many species of their precious citrus trees, and collected other plants as well to plant a fruit orchard.

Since they considered fruit trees special, they always called orchards gardens, and beautified them with flowers as well as profitable crops.

 

All the Moors had to was cut a few irrigation channels, leading from what was left of the Kolymbetra, to water the garden.

 

Limestone wall

 

Next...Garden continuation.

 

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