We arrived in darkness and saw the temples of Agrigento illuminated on the hillside. They looked like fake temple cut-outs, but they were the real thing.
I took an elective Ancient Civilizations course in high school, and I still remember my teacher telling the class how amazing the temples at Agrigento are. “If you want to see Greek ruins, go to Sicily, not Greece.” Mr. Conry was a bundle of contradictions: A slightly sexist football coach who looked 75 instead of his actual 55, he was well-read and had a passion for history, art, and travel. And he told a great story.
Thanks, Mr. Conry, for encouraging me. I took your advice and went to Sicily!
I visited the Hellenistic-Romano Quarter (the remnants of a Roman neighborhood built on top of the original Greek urban plan), the archaeological museum, and 4 of the 5 Greek temple ruins.
After hours in the sun, my mom and Jesse were tired, but I wanted to see the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Jesse ran back up the hill to retrieve the car while I investigated one last temple. It was the largest Doric temple ever constructed, although it was never finished. Now nothing remains but huge piles of rubble. I still could imagine how glorious it must have looked when it was built.
When Jesse rolled up in the car, I admitted to myself that I was tired, too. We spent the evening relaxing at the Bed and Breakfast.
Seeing the temples was a fulfillment of a wish I’d had since high school. It made history seem more real. I can imagine the Greeks fighting battles to maintain control of Sicily and erecting the temples to express gratitude to the gods for their victories.
My next Greek history landmark? Someday I hope to see the Parthenon!