For Greek Temples, Come to Sicily

In the 5th century BCE, Agrigento had a population of 200,000 people making it the third largest city in the Greek world. Today it has a population of 60,000 people and is home to The Valley of the Temples, home to the best preserved Greek Temples in Italy – and as good as any you will find in Greece. They built fifteen Temples in the area in an eighty year period. Each temple honored a different god. For protection and to frighten any warring visitors, a line of Temples was built on a ridge between the sea and the inland mountains. The location was designed to impress any visitors from the sea with their prowess.Temple “D” or the Temple of Juno is located at the top of the ridge. It had six columns on each short side and thirteen on each long side. Since Sicily has no marble, their temples were made of sandstone from a nearby quarry. The columns were made of stacked drums held in place with wooden pegs. The fluting was then added to conceal the fact that it was not one monolithic column. Finally, everything was covered with plaster.About seven miles of walls with nine gates protected the temples and the city. The niches in the walls were used to bury people. Family groups were often buried in one niche.The walls have holes now that give a good view of the sea.Our guide was an archaeologist who was forever picking up pieces of artifacts from the ground and using them to illustrate a point. The ground is literally full of fragments from temple ruins, with more being exposed after every rain.The temple of Concordia, built in 435 BCE, is one of the best preserved Greek Temples in the world. The exterior columns and the pediment have never been rebuilt. In 597 CE, the temple was converted into the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul and was used as a church for nearly 1200 years. In 1788 the church additions were removed and it was returned to its original state as an archeological site. The Greeks had a full understanding of perspective and slanted the outside columns slightly to the center and bowed the base slightly up in the middle so that the columns look straight and the base appears flat when viewed from a distance.They are doing some archeological work in front of the Temple of Concordia and have discovered this ancient cistern.We saw some goats along the path with these unique horns.There was a relatively modern house and gardens along the path joining the temples.The Temple of Hercules was one of the final temples erected in the area and the only one where slaves were not used in its construction.We had lunch in a private home. The grandfather of the daughter who helped cook lunch had a hobby of building carts. After lunch we looked at some of them. The carts are entirely hand made with the grandfather doing all the construction except for the painting. This means he did all the wood work, the wood carving, the wood turning, and the metal work. The carts are perfectly balanced when they are horizontal to minimize strain on the horse.We are staying at another agriturismo tonight. The location and grounds are beautiful. Unfortunately, it was a little windy and cool to enjoy the pool. The dinner tonight at the agriturismo was outstanding with an assortment of appetizers, a pasta course, meatballs that had everyone asking for the recipe, and a chocolate cake that was to die for! The second unfortunate thing is that we are only staying here one night.

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