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Agrigento, Italy 2018
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The Temple of Juno in the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento.
Agrigento has endured a turbulent past thanks to the violent history of Sicily.

This photo was taken from the new town, perched high on the ridge. In the distance, looking South, is the Mediterranean Sea. Just below us on the right of the photo is the Temple of Concordia, part of the Valley of the Temples.

Those temples were in the Ancient Greek City of Akragas which was founded in 580 BC by Greek colonists from Gela, which is East of Agrigento.

Akragas became a wealthy and important city in its own right and probably had a population of between 100,000 and 200,000 in its heyday. Unfortunately, it was sacked by the Carthaginians in 406 BC and it later became involved in the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome.

In 261 BC it was captured by the Romans and the entire population was sold into slavery. After the fall of the Roman Empire the city was controlled in succession by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths and the Byzantine Empire. Then came the Arabs in 828 AD.

In 1087, Count Roger I of Sicily captured it and renamed the city as Girgenti. The old city, containing the Greek Temples, seems to have been abandoned during the Byzantine period. The population had moved up to a new town built at the top of the ridge, possibly because it may have been easier to defend against attacks from Saracen (Arab) pirates.

The Valley of the Temples is now a large park and it is a most agreeable place to amble along, inspecting the various monuments.

The two men in the foreground seem to have been interested in the olive trees growing in the park.

A close up shot of olives.
These are remnants of the old city walls of Akragas. During the centuries following the abandonment of the Old City, and the move to the top of the ridge, the old structures were systematically quarried for the stones which were then reused in the building of the new town.
During the early Christian era, it was a common practice to carve out catacombs in the old walls of Akragas for the burial of Christains. They also used some of the underground channels which had been dug out much earlier for bringing water into the old Greek city.
This draped figure is one of the few artefacts found in the Valley of the Temples which have not been stored and exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento.
The next few photos are of the Temple of Concordia, one of the most complete and best preserved Greek temples in the Mediterranean area.

This may have been due to the fact that it had been converted into a Christian church in 597 AD.

A large bronze statue of the winged Icarus lies in front of the Temple of Concordia.
The Ancient Greek philosopher, Empedocles, was a citizen of Akragas. He gave us the Four Ultimate Elements of fire, air, water and earth. These represented the four states of matter: energy, gases, liquids and solids.

He proposed that everything on earth was made up of various proportions of these four fundamental (and indestructible) "elements". His theory became the standard view for the next two thousand years.

Legend has it that he and his father played an important role in the overthrow of the tyrants who ruled Akragas, and in the establishment of democracy in that city state.

I am not sure how these deep ruts on the site may have functioned in days past. Perhaps it had something to do with transporting water?

If anyone knows, please contact me. Thanks in anticipation.

I noticed these shell fossils in an ancient wall. The quarry from which the stones were excavated by the Ancient Greeks must have once been mud at the bottom of the sea. Geological time!
The Park of the Valley of the Temples is doing its bit to preserve this special breed of goats which are indigenous to the Province of Agrigento. It is called the Girgentana and there were once more than 30,000 of them in the hills and coastal zone of this area.

Now there are only 390 animals remaining and they have been placed on the endangered list. The spiral horns are a characteristic attribute, and, apparently, they produce a high-quality milk.

Throughout the Park there are wildflowers and bushes which brighten the scene.
Not too far from the Valley of the Temples Park there is the Regional Archaeological Museum of Agrigento, which should not be missed. It contains over 5000 exhibits, and it houses much of the artifacts that have been excavated in the Temples area.
An amusing object in the Museum. I have no idea what it was used for. I couldn't see a sign explaining its function.
One of the dozens of Greek vases here.
As you can tell by the relative size of the woman visitor at the bottom right corner of the photo, the time worn sculpture of this figure was large. Was it male or female; and I wonder what it was holding up?
A beautifully carved sarchophagus in the Archaeological Museum.
This is the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi (Chiesa di San Francesco d'Assisi) in the new town at the top of the ridge.
The Nave and Apse of the Church of Saint Francis.
A fresco in the Apse of the Church of Saint Francis.
This is the over-the-top interior of the Chiesa e Monastero di Santo Spirito. It was founded in 1299 by the Marchesa Rosalia Prefoglio, the wife of Federico I of Chiaramonte.
These stucco sculptures were created by the Sicilian sculptor, Giacomo Serpotta (1652 - 1727). He may have been influenced by the Roman sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was unfortunate that the Cathedral of Agrigento was closed for major restoration work and I couldn't take any photos there. It has an amazing interior. Ah well, next time!
Agrigento may not be the prettiest town in Sicily but there are still a few quaint places to photograph.
I wonder what function that strange wooden structure performs!
At the very edge of the new town I came across this structure carved into a large wall. It may have been part of the old fortifications of Agrigento, perhaps part of a gateway.
Agrigento is due South of Palermo on the Southern coast of Sicily. The regional train took about 2.5 hours to go from Palermo to Agrigento. The scenery on the way was most interesting.
We passed this town nestled under a huge crag, somewhere between Agrigento and Palermo. I don't know its name.

Google Photos couldn't tell me either. It suggested that it may have been in Telluride in Colorado, USA. Nope! It was definitely somewhere in the heart of Sicily.

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