Agrigento - Valley of the temples
Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian) is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragras (a.k.a. Acragas in Greek, Agrigentum in Latin, and Kerkent in Arabic), one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece. - From Wikipedia the free encyklopedia
The Agrigento Sicily - archeological site was classiified as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997 as collection of Doric temples. Akragas founded in 581 BC was a subcolony , since its founders of Rhodian and Cretan origin, came from the nearby city Gela, founded a century earlier. The urban layout of Akragas was closely linked to the topography of the land. Excavations have confirmed that the town occupied the depression located between the hills that now host the modern town to the north and the temples to the south. The centre of civic life consisted of two public areas, the north and south agorae identified on the knoll of San Nicola and in modern-day Piazzale Hardcastle. The historians of ancient times spoke of Agrigento being a populous city with a two or three hundred thousand inhabitants.
In the 5th century BC this horse-rearing city famous throughout the ancient world, was surrounded by beautiful Doric temples with two agorae and splendid porticoes, a feverishly active emporium, strong fortifications and intensely cultivated land. Poets, artists and adventurers came here to enjoy the opulence of this city dedicated to Demeter and Persephone, as well as its sky, sea and exceptionally mild climate. The residents of Agrigento lived in such luxury that, according to the historian Diodorus Siculus, a public decree restricted the night facilities of sentinels during the Carthaginian attack to one mattres, one blanket one sheepskin and two pilows.
The rich generous Gellias was without doubt the symbol of Akragas' opulence. His enormous fortune allowed him to host any foreigner who came to visit his beloved city. His magnanimity led to him becoming famous amongst his fellow citizens to the extent of him being appointed ambassador, despite his lack of serious involvment in political life.
Diodorus Siculus telle us that when sent to represent Akragas in the city of Centuripe, Gellias received a cold reception from its citizens, who had hoped to see someone who physically reflected the greatness of that powerfull city. In fact Gellias was not physically imposing and his high-pitched voice produced much mirth amongst his hosts. However, the quick-wited Gellias was not at all discouraged and told them that they were right to laugh since his city sent impressive, powerful ambassadors to powerful cities, while they sent small, humble mensuch as himself tu such trifling little cities as theirs.
Kolymbetra Garden in the Valley of the Temples
In the archeological area of the Agrigento Sicily - Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, defined by Pindar as »The moast beutiful city of the mortals«, there is a corner which is still unknown to many; a pleasant corner where you can take refuge from scorching heat of the sun-baked ancient ruins;
Garden of the Kolymbetra, is a small valley which, thanks to its surprising fertility, resembles the garden of Eden or a corner of the promised land. Garden near Valley of the temple - AgrigentoInside the Archeological and Landscape park of the Valley, set up by the Region of Sicily in 2000, the garden stretches over around five hectares; it is enclosed by walls of calcareous tufa between the Temple od castor and Pollux, the symbol of Agrigento, and the temple of Vulcan in a magnificent setting of hills, knolls and the endless sea that separates Sicily from Africa. The favourable microclimate which has protected the land from the cold winter winds and the heat of summer, the fertility of its alluvial soil and its abundance of water have allowe an extraordinary vegetation to flourish over the centuries.
Garden near Valley of the templeIn the bottom of the valley today, this vegetation consists of citrus garden with lemons, citrons, mandarins and ancient varieties of orange; of canes, poplars, tamarisks and wilows that grow lushly near the waterways; of almond and olive trees spread over non irrigated areas; of vegetable gardens and vineyards, and finally a thick Mediterranean maquis (myrtle, lentiscus, terebinth, phyllyrea, euphorbia, broom) which grows all over.