The monumentalization of Akragas

A monument for the victory over Carthage: the Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is considered the largest in the whole of Sicily: 30 metres high, 112 metres long and 56 metres wide, it celebrated Agrigento’s victory over the Carthaginians.
Un monumento per la vittoria su Cartagine- il tempio di Zeus Olimpio
Such majestic proportions made it a veritable manifesto for the propaganda of the tyrant Theron’s power. Construction work on the building lasted over seventy years, but was abruptly interrupted: According to Diodorus Siculus , a Siceliot historian, or Greek of Sicily, the cause of this interruption was probably the Carthaginians, who, returning to Sicily in 406 BC, conquered and destroyed the city. The enormous structure rested on a basement of five steps.
Like the temples of Demeter and Asclepius, the sacred building dedicated to the king of the gods was not surrounded by columns. In fact, the Temple of Zeus had semi-columns inserted as pillars on the wall, seven on the short sides and fourteen on the long sides. Between one half column and another stood the telamons , gigantic statues towering 7.65 metres high, with their arms bent behind their heads to symbolically support the temple's architrave .
Un monumento per la vittoria su Cartagine- il tempio di Zeus Olimpio telamoni
Not far from the front, facing east like all Greek temples, you can still see the basement of the colossal altar : it measured 54 by 17 metres! It was in this sacred space that the terrible sacrifices in honour of the god took place, including the hecatomb , the sacrifice of a hundred oxen.
The temple’s return to grandeur is unfortunately only hypothetical. During the Middle Ages the building’s stone blocks were taken away to build the palaces and churches of Agrigento, while in the 18th century, those that remained were used for the Port of Porto Empedocle.

The lively decorations of the temple

The Kolymbetra Garden

The Temple of Asclepius

Empedocles, the political philosopher

The Temple of Hera Lacinia

The Temple of Heracles

Akragas in the beginning

A monument for the victory over Carthage: the Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Akragas building sites

The cult of Demeter and Persephone

The Eleusinian mysteries

The walls of Akragas in the fifth century BC

Reinforcement of natural ramparts

Phalaris, the terrible tyrant

From pagan cults to Christian worship: the Church of St. Gregory

The most beautiful city of mortals

The sanctuary of the chthonic deities

Sacrifices for the goddesses that made the fields fertile

Theron, tyrant of the arts and victories

The Temple of Demeter

The Temple of Concordia

Vegetation in the Gardens

The Twelve Labours of Heracles

The Sanctuary of Asclepius: a place of welcome for the sick