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The Valley Of The Temples In Agrigento, Sicily – Your Guide

If you are considering a visit to the Valley Of The Temples in Agrigento, Sicily but you aren’t sure if it would be worth it and safe, then this is your guide.

valley of the temples - Icarus

Icarus Flew Too Close to the Sun and Fell to Earth

The Valley Of The Temples History Is Complex

It was the second most important city of greater Greece (Magna Grecia) behind Syracuse on the east coast of Sicily. It has represented one of the most shining historical centers of the Mediterranean. This is why UNESCO granted the Archaeological Area of Agrigento the title of being a World Heritage Site in 1997.

The city has been conquered and has risen several times on top of its remains. In 210 BC Agrigento was sacked by the Romans and subjected to the Empire but later, an invasion and rebuilding by the Arabs who rebuilt it on the top of the hill.

Today you can admire the historic center characterized by the typical Arabic architecture, with its small alleys and courtyards that converge towards the Via Atenea, which is still considered the most important artery of the city today. The main attraction of Agrigento is the Valley of the Temples, one of the most extensive, representative, and best-preserved archaeological sites of classical Greek civilization. Along a rocky line of cliffs, chosen as the southern limit of the town, the great Doric temples dedicated to the gods are still standing.

Traveling To Agrigento From Palermo

valley of the temples - Agrigento Train Station

Train Station in Agrigento

With the train, you have a few options:

  • If you don’t like traveling by train so much, or if you want to see more of the small town and coast of Sicily, you can always rent a car. It is approximately a 2 hour drive from Palermo. I won’t get into the intricacies of renting a car in this blog post, but I will be doing it in the future.
  • You can book with Trenitalia, leaving from Palermo Centrale and arriving in Agrigento Centrale after a little more than 2 hours. These are regional (Regionale) trains and leave hourly during peak time and every 2 hours otherwise. The cost is a reasonable 9.90€ each way.
  • There is a bus service, Cuffaro, that has five rides a day, except Sunday, between Palermo and Agrigento. It arrives at the bus station in Piazzetta Rosselli. The cost is 9€ for a one-way ticket (biglietto) or 14.20€ for a return trip. 

Is Agrigento A Safe City?

The quick answer to this question is Yes! Smaller cities like Agrigento are safer than Palermo because it attracts fewer tourists and because of this there are fewer people there trying to separate you from your money. According to Numbeo.com, Agrigento has a low level of crime and is safe, even walking alone both day and night. The highest type of crime that they track are problems with corruption and bribery, which shouldn’t concern you.

What Is Agrigento Known For?

While Agrigento is beautiful and there is a lot to enjoy, the main attraction of this city is the Valley of the Temples (La Valle dei Templi) and they definitely shouldn’t be missed. You can consider it one large park, but I would suggest that you should familiarize yourself with the temples individually because you will get more out of the experience.

Valley of the Temples - Agrigento

Valley of the Temples on a Sunny Day

  • The Temple of Juno – Located in the highest part of the ancient Greek city, the temple was built around the middle of the 5th century BC and it is dedicated to the goddess Juno, the wife of Zeus. At this temple, the ancient Greeks celebrated weddings and over the years the spouses went to the temple as a sign of gratitude and also to donate the bride’s belt which, due to her pregnancy, became too tight.
  • The Temple of Concord – Along the Via Sacra, whose name is a reference to a Latin inscription that referred to the “Concordia degli Agrigentini”. This temple, like all the others, is Doric in style. Today the Temple of Concord is one of the symbols of this Valley. The view of the temple illuminated with the sunset in the background is certainly unique in the world.
  • The Temple of Hercules – It is the oldest of the Agrigento temples, presumably dating back to the 6th century BC. C. Cicero speaks of it, describing it as being very close to the agora, which today is the square of the refreshment stand.  The temple was destroyed, like many others, due to an earthquake and only around 1920 the eight columns that can be seen today were raised.
  • The Temple of Jupiter – Its construction began around 480 BC, but it was never completed. It would have been the largest temple ever built by the Greeks. Today few ruins of this temple remain. Some of the blocks of the temple were used, at the time of Charles III of Bourbon, to build the pier of the port of Porto Empedocle.
  • The Temple of the Dioscuri – The temple of the Dioscuri has become the tourist symbol of Agrigento. The people of Agrigento usually call it “the three columns” even though it has four. Although it is a small temple, it is one of the most immortalized.
  • The Kolymbetra Garden – Kolymbetra is an archaeological and landscape jewel located within the Park of the Valley of the Temples, between the Temple of the Dioscuri and the Temple of Vulcano, which has been brought back to life after decades of neglect. The Gardens of particular importance are the ancient hypogea or “Feaci Aqueducts”, the only ones that can be visited in the Valley of the Temples, and they are rich in ancient citrus fruits and centuries-old olive trees.

Other Places To See In Agrigento

Once you spend the morning enjoying the temples, or if you plan to visit the temples at sunset, you can spend the rest of your day enjoying some of the other beauties of this city:

valley of the temples - Bas Relief in Santo Spirito

Bas Relief in Santo Spirito

  • The Cathedral of San Gerlando was founded towards the end of the eleventh century by Bishop Gerlando. The temple is of Norman-Gothic style and is accessed through a wide and soft staircase. The building houses the precious Treasure of the Cathedral, particularly rich in works of art. You can also climb the bell tower and admire the roofs of Girgenti from above.
  • The Beaches of Agrigento – These fine white sand beaches extend for miles to the east and west, from the ancient town of Marina di Licata, passing through Punta Bianca, continuing on to the most fashionable San Leone, the nerve center of the Agrigento summer scene.
  • The Ladder of the Turks – (La Scala dei Turchi)  is a truly magical place located along the sea between Realmonte and Porto Empedocle. The rock of the Ladder is made of soft, calcareous (mostly or partly composed of calcium carbonate) marl and it is a blinding white. It has become a tourist attraction, partly due to its mention in Andrea Camilleri’s series of detective stories about Commissario Montalbano. In January 2022 the site was stained red by vandals.
  • Abbey of Santo Spirito –  Built in 1260, the complex consists of the church and the adjacent Cistercian monastery. Inside, numerous eighteenth-century Serpottian stuccoes that decorate the walls of the church, a holy water stoup of the ‘500 and a wooden ceiling coffered in 1758, in which is painted the coat of arms of the Chiaramonte family. Inside the adjacent monastery, or Badia Grande, are preserved some frescoes of the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The nuns of the monastery prepare delicious almond and pistachio cakes, according to a centuries-old recipe!

The Valley Of The Temples Hours And Admission

There are combinations of sites that might interest you and different tickets for each combination. The Valley of the Temples is open weekdays from 8:30am to 7:00pm and public holidays and pre-holidays from 8:30am to 7:00pm.

The park allows for evening and night visits so in addition to the daily opening hours, the evening visits will take place every weekday from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, with exit from the archaeological area at 11:00pm. On holidays, however, the evening visits will last until 11:00 pm, with exit from the archaeological area at midnight.

How Much Does It Cost To Go To The Valley Of Temples?

Full price is € 10.00 per person- € 12.00 per person, discounted is € 5.00 per person- € 7.00 per person. There is free admission for everybody on the first Sunday of the month.

Parking Near The Valley Of The Temples

To access the archaeological areas, you can use the parking and ticket office located at Porta V or the ticket office located near the Temple of Juno.

Is The Valley Of The Temples Worth Visiting?

Most of my recommendations for day trips are from Rome, and this definitely is not one of those. If, however, you chose to visit Sicily for a weekend or more, you can consider Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples to be a great day trip from Palermo. For more information about traveling around Italy, check out these posts:

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