Days 5 & 6: Agrigento and the Valley of the Greek Temples
We leave Piazza Armerina behind in the morning of day 5. It is a pleasant drive through Sicily’s backyard heading to Agrigento, the contemporary version of the ancient Greek city of Akragas. We stop for a few minutes to snap some shots of mighty Etna:
Seven Greek temples, or the remains thereof, all built in Doric style, can be seen during an extensive visit to the Valley of the Temples. I leave you to search for the reasons of why ancient Greeks decided to leave Crete and Rhodos and established settlements in Sicily, to be later transformed into a thriving civilization. Akragas became the richest Greek colony in Sicily and the splendour and magnitude of the archeological remains are stunning even for a visitor well acquainted to the architecture of ancient Greece.
General view of the Valley of the Temples and the Mediterranean Sea from our hotel window:
Distant view of one of the best preserved temples, the Temple of Concordia:
Closer look; it’s like being in Athens:
Temple of Hera, Greek godess of marriage:
Only 8 columns of the Temple of Heracles still stand today, after almost 2500 years from its construction:
Day 7: Remains of the ancient cities Selinunte and Segesta
On the 1st of January 2013 we left Agrigento early in the morning and drove into what has been the best day of this journey. Two beautiful ancient and well-hidden Greek cities are on today’s agenda: Selinunte, beautifully located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and Segesta, a spectacular site surrounded by mountains in the northern part of the island.
Ancient road leading from Selinunte’s Acropolis to the seashore:
Impressive display of the remains of a destroyed city:
Closer look to the stones that once proudly shaped the walls and columns of Selinunte:
Distant view of the Acropolis:
Let’s have a closer look:
Temple of Hera:
Entry into the temple:
As a New Year celebration, visitors were allowed to walk inside. It was indeed a special moment, providing for a different perspective:
This is by far the best view, seeing the Mediterranean through the temple’s columns:
50 kilometers further north it’s a different story and a different setting. It is unusual to see a Doric temple against a rocky background:
Detail of the Doric temple:
The biggest surprise of Segesta is the Greek theatre located on top of Monte Barbaro, around 350 meters in height:
Closer look to the 17 rows of seats carved in stone:
Not quite the usual location for a Greek theatre, but a hell of a view to the Tyrrhenian Sea:
Day 8: Palermo
Late after dark on day 7 of our journey through Sicily we descended from the mountains heading for what was meant to be a short visit to Palermo.
Palermo rooftops and Tyrrhenian Sea in the background:
Palermo’s Cathedral built in 1200:
, a bronze line running from North to South on the cathedral’s floor. It was used to keep track of time with the help of a small hole on one of the cathedral’s domes to let the sunrays inside. Alas, Palermo has never been the prime meridian of the World:
Piazza Pretoria and the famous fountain of Francesco Camilliani, a sculptor from Tuscany:
Politeama Theatre, the seat of Palermo’s philharmonic orchestra:
Day 9: Monreale, Cefalu and Catania
Our last day in Sicily. We plan to head back to Catania in the evening, after two short visits to Monreale and Cefalu.
Monreale Cathedral, built in around 1200, is the finest example of Norman architecture in Sicily:
Inside view with fine tuned mosaics all over the walls:
Overview of Palermo’s burbs as seen from Monreale:
Cefalu’s promotional photograps look very spectacular and appealing. However, I have not been able to find the best spots for taking pictures and I can’t offer you a view that puts things into perspective. Cefalu is indeed a spectacular location, provided that you find the right place to see it all.
Cathedral of Cefalu, built in 1100, same Norman architecture:
Narrow street heading to a tiny beach:
Sundown right before our departure for Catania:
Back to Catania two hours after leaving Cefalu behind. Can’t stay in our hotel room for the last night in Sicily, right? Two night pics of the Cathedral, with its Baroque architecture: