Temple of Hephaestus

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The Temple of Hephaestus, or Vulcan, is probably the last building constructed on the high ground of Akragas. As with most temples in Agrigento, the dedication to the god Hephaestus is conventional. It is based on a passage by the Roman writer Gaius Julius Solinus, who mentions the presence of a cult of Vulcan in the city of Akragas. From the original structure of the temple, only parts of the base and the remains of two columns are visible today. From these few elements, scholars have deduced that the temple was peripteral-hexastyle.

The Temple of Hephaestus: the origin of the name

«…In the lake of Agrigento, not far from the hill of Vulcan, oil floats, those who perform religious ceremonies arrange on the altars the woods of life, not even fire opposes this compound… »

Gaius Julius Solinus, Collectanea rerum memorabilium

The Temple of Hephaestus in Agrigento, or the Temple of Vulcan, stands at the western end of the Temple Hill. To visit it, it is necessary to pay a separate ticket to enter the area called Kolymbethra Garden. In Greek mythology, Hephaestus was the god of fire. Son of Zeus and Hera and husband of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, he had his forge inside the volcano Etna. The attribution of this sanctuary to the cult of Hephaestus, as for many other temples, is only conventional. It is based on some references in the work Collectanea rerum memorabilium (“Collection of Curiosities”) by the Roman writer Gaius Julius Solinus. Here he attests the existence of a cult dedicated to the god Vulcan in ancient Agrigento.

The architecture of the Temple of Vulcan

The Temple of Hephaestus is probably the youngest of the buildings in the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento. In fact, it dates back to 430 BC. Very little of the ancient structure can be seen today. In fact, only part of the foundation remains, with the high stone steps of the basement and two fluted columns with Doric influences. However, these few elements have allowed scholars to reconstruct the structure of the Temple of Vulcan. It was peripteral-hexastyle, with six columns on the short sides and thirteen on the long sides. The interior was divided into an entrance hall (pronaos), a cella or naos where the statue of the deity stood, and a rear compartment (opisthodomos). Inside the cella were the remains of a 6th century B.C. temple that was later incorporated into the structure.

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