Sicily is home to some of the world’s most sublimely beautiful ancient temples. The Greeks built temples all over the Island, at a time when the island, then part of Magna Graecia, was an important colonial possession and Syracuse was one of the most dazzling cities of the empire. That means whatever your entry point to the island, you won’t be far from a temple and if you stick around long enough, you’ll have the chance to see a lot of them!
Temple of Apollo
Smack dab in the middle of Syracuse's old town, you'll find Sicily's oldest Doric temple. We must admit that this 6th century BC beauty has seen better days, but, hey, 'location, location, location!' Syracuse's fabulous location was part of what made the town a powerhouse in the ancient world and exploring this ruin at the doorstep of Ortygia's marketplace gives a powerful sense of the layers of history that are part of daily life in Syracuse. Temple was used as a church under Byzantine and Norman rule and as a barracks for the Spanish. In the 19th century, a notary by the name of Matteo Santoro had part of his house built into the temple. His daily life was deeply altered by tourists asking to enter his house to check out the doric Columns built into the walls of his home. He would patiently oblige, but eventually, municipal authorities had his house torn down. Don't miss the inscription etched onto the last step of side E commemorating the temple's architect Kleomede, who certainly must have been proud of his work.
Temple of Concord (Agrigento)
As one of the world's best preserved Doric temples, the Temple of Concord is arguably Sicily's most prized archeological treasure. The name Concordia comes from a Latin inscription which was found near the temple which Parthenon. In 1787 Goethe was pedaled by the beauty of the temple's ochre color, which likely will bedazzle you as well. Only that poor Goethe never got to see the temple lit at night, which is an opportunity well worth seizing if your timing is right!
If we could play favorites, we'd be very tempted to say this is our favorite temple in Sicily. The isolated location near Trapani shrowds this location with mystery and beauty, much in the way its story does, as it was a temple which historians believe was never finished. If you have the chance to visit in the spring, the blossoming fields of flowers the surround the site will provide a site that even the grumpiest of travelers could not be immune to.
The temple of Hera Selinunte
With its stunning location against the backdrop of the mediterranean.. as part of the vast archeological park. Unfortunately, the area was plagued by earthquakes but... It is the best conserved of the temples of Selinus but its present appearance is the result of anastylosis (reconstruction using original material) performed—controversially—in 1959, by the Italian archaeologist Jole Bovio Marconi. Another bit of good fortune for lovers of the ancient world is that the temple's four metopes are preserved: Heracles killing the Amazon Antiope, the marriage of Hera and Zeus, Actaeon being torn apart by Artemis’ hunting dogs, Athena killing the Giant Enceladus, and another more fragmentary one perhaps depicting Apollo and Daphne. All of them are kept in the Museo Archeologico di Palermo. Even though they were almost taken to England by two 19th century architects.
Although this one is a baroque church from the outside, once inside you'll find the beautiful colonade of the once great Doric temple that once stood on site of the current day cathedral of Syracuse. In its heyday the temple, which was dedicated to Athena, was visited by Plato, during one of his several visits to Sycily at the time when Syracuse was the principal city on the island.