The first temples and the cult of Demeter and Persephone

The Temple of Heracles

The Temple of Heracles is the oldest Akragantine temple: it was the first to be built in the Valley of the Temples. Situated on the rocky ridge of the hill south of the settlement, it stood proud and solitary towards the sky, and for this would have elicited a certain effect in the observer contemplating its grandeur. The origin of its name is based on a quotation by Cicero who in his work “In Verrem” spoke of a temple dedicated to the hero located not far from the forum, containing a famous statue of the demigod.
The Temple of Heracles was a Doric temple, like all the temples in Agrigento, surrounded on each side by a row of columns: six on the short sides and fifteen on the long ones.
The temple stood on a basement which was accessed via four steps. In the corridor between the columns and the cella (shrine), where the statue of the deity was kept, the ancient paving made of large square-shaped stones is surprisingly still visible.The trabeation was richly decorated, coloured red and blue. The discovery of some decorations of the frieze inside the temple, which were smaller than those of the external frieze, led to the assumption that the structure had a trabeation also decorated inside.
The temple was probably destroyed by an earthquake. Of its original thirty-eight columns, only nine are standing today, thanks mainly to the restoration work funded back in 1922 by the English captain Alexander Hardcastle, who was responsible for the relocation of eight columns.

 lion's head
The temple of Heracle, like that the temple of Demetra, had droplets with the particular form of the lion’s head, held at the Museum of Archeological Peter Griffo. These elements, which are in stone, are now very ruined and corrupt by time, but it is still possible to clearly distinguish the lion’s snout and the mouth, open, of the animal. Originally, the lion’s head had to appear surrounded by a thick, finely curved horsehair, from which the ears came out. The eyes of the animal and the muzzle finished with details. From the open mouth , from which the water came down, you could see the teeth. The finds, in limestone, date from the end of the 6th century to the 2nd century BC.
The sanctuary of the chthonic deities

The Temple of Demeter

The cult of Demeter and Persephone

Empedocles, the political philosopher

Vegetation in the Gardens

Theron, tyrant of the arts and victories

The Akragas building sites

Sacrifices for the goddesses that made the fields fertile

The walls of Akragas in the fifth century BC

The Temple of Heracles

The Temple of Hera Lacinia

Reinforcement of natural ramparts

The Twelve Labours of Heracles

The Temple of Concordia

Akragas in the beginning

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

The Eleusinian mysteries

Phalaris, the terrible tyrant

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

The Kolymbetra Garden

The most beautiful city of mortals

The lively decorations of the temple

The Temple of Asclepius

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