Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sicily Part 2: Agrigento

We spent the second part of our trip in a town called Agrigento, on the southern coast of Sicily. The train ride there went through the interior of Sicily, which was beautiful. It reminded me of Wales and so I thought kindly upon it.

Our main reason for going to Agrigento was a place called Valley of the Temples. In the last blog, I mentioned how the Greeks colonized Syracuse--they also colonized Agrigento and left behind temples that rival those in Athens. As you'll see, Christians in the third, fourth, and fifth centuries were also active in this area, so it was also helpful for my research. Here's us at the Temple to Castor and Pollux, who, according to Greek mythology, were the twin sons of Zeus.

Just to give you an idea of the size of the temples, here's John at the Temple to Hercules (a.k.a. 'Heracles').

And me at the Temple of Vulcan--I'm the pinkish, bluish dot in the background.

This is the site's most famous temple: the Temple of Concordia. As you can see, it's still in pretty good shape, only a little bit weathered with a missing roof. In the sixth century A.D., the Christians of Agrigento built a church inside the temple, both to take advantage of a good location and to show that the pagan gods were not real and therefore no threat. Look in-between the pillars in the front and you'll see an arch and a window of what's left of the church.

Another example of the Christian presence in the Valley of the Temples is the series of Christian graves that stretch in-between and around the Temples. Christians used to have to bury their dead underground in catacombs because of persecution, but after Christianity became tolerated, they still practiced catacomb-like burials. As you can see, these graves are pretty close to the surface; by the time they were dug, there was no longer any need to hide them.

This is mostly what's left of the Temple of Jupiter (a.k.a. Zeus), which used to be the largest temple in the Valley.

But inside the nearby museum, you can see a few more remains from Jupiter's Temple. This big guy is called a telamon; it was positioned on the temple's pillars to 'hold up' the temple roof. See how it looks like its arms are bent back at the elbows? These telamons were about half the height of the pillars, so you can imagine how tall the temple was!

Here's us at the Temple of Juno (a.k.a. Hera), Jupiter/Zeus' wife.

And last but definitely not least, here are some examples of Sicilian pastries. Three out of the four pastries pictured here involve pistachios. Any guesses?

Love you and ciao!

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