Friday, 12 February 2016

Valli di Templi

Thursday 11th February, 2016

Over the past few months we have clocked-up a fair few classical sites - Olympia, Epidavros, Ancient Corinth, and a couple of days ago, Villa Casale. All of them have been interesting, well set out, informative and thought provoking. None, however can quite match the scale, grandeur and beauty of Agrigento's Valli di Templi. 

However, before celebrating the delights of the site, a note concerning its hazards. My advice would be to follow the signs to the car park and pay-up the 5 euro charge for motorhomes. Instead we caught the bus which stops outside of the exit. The ticket office and entrance is at gate 5, about half a kilometre distant. The main road in between is pavement-less and squeezes through 'Porta Aura' a narrow gap carved out of a rock outcrop in antiquity. There is scarcely room for two coaches to pass, and tour buses come and go, driven with Italian panache as hapless pedestrians spread themselves against the rock walls to avoid being flattened. This seems to be some kind of a initiation ceremony, because if you survive to find the ticket office everything else about the zone archeologica is utterly delightful.

Ideally it would have been nice to see the place on a sunny day, but even under an overcast sky the almond blossom covered hills were spectacular. Close up, the flowers look pure white, but in the middle distance the almond groves take on a pale, smokey mauve tinge, Perhaps this effect was emphasised by the misty light, the effect was very beautiful.

The remains of the temples were scattered among the almond trees in fields of spring flowers. We took scores of photographs, here a few with a comment here and there.

The zona archaelogica is huge - 1,700 hectares - it's a long, but lovely walk from the entrance to the ruins.

Yellow flowers and white almond blossom - how lovely is that?

The way the distant almond trees look pale and misty is magical;.

The temples in the first area are dedicated to  Demeter, mainly worshipped by women - as the information board explained.

Next the gigantic remains of the Temple of Zeus - its monumental scale looks almost Egyptian.

The information boards explained that the Temple frontage was decorated by sculptures of  naked giants - this explains the somewhat startling ceramic plaqueon the side of the tourist office that we noticed yesterday!

A 'visa sacra' leads uphill to the Temple of Concordia
Concordia is one of the best preserved Doric Temples, due to its use as a chuirch in the Middle Ages most of internal walls remain intact.

In 2011 someone decided to improve the view with a brand new sancient statue - it was proving very popular with young women from the Orient sporting selfie sticks - I can't imagine why.....

'tis a noble pile!

On the hill opposite are the remains of the Temple of Hera

From it you get a great view across the site towards Concordia.

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