MOST AMAZING ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM EVER
06.08.2015 - 06.08.2015 78 °F
I forgot to mention that the breakfast room at the hotel has a glass bottom floor when you walk in, and you look down upon some ruins that date back to the 6th century BC. For three days, I have never quite gotten used to walking over these glass floors, sheepishly skirting the edges...my admission for the trip...it has to do with fear of heights...but the ruins below are no more than five feet...oh well!
After breakfast we set off for the Regional Archaeological Museum. This is one of the most important museums in the world, preserving the relics of ancient Akragas, a powerful Siceliot (Greek of Sicily) place from the 5th century BC. Very impressive are: the collection of craters; the wonderful marble statue of the catamite, the Efebo of Agrigento; the prehistoric collection and, above all, the colossal telamons, giant male statues, like columns, that supported the Temple of Zeus. The museum is situated near the famous Valley of the Temples and housed in the 14th century Convent of San Nicola. In the outside area there still are the ruins of the Ekklesiasterion (like an amphitheater), the bouleuterion and the Oratorio of Phalaris (a small Roman Temple) (photo). This museum contains inscriptions, splendid coins, pottery and ceramics.
Just after entering, the first room is dedicated to the ancient fountains and to the general topography .Following is a collection of various prehistoric relics. A little further on, one finds displays of archeological material from the area around Gela, the motherland of Akragas. One finds, materials made by the Proto-Corinthians and the Corinthians of the 7th century BC like lamps, vases, terracotta statues …
We then pass into Room 3, which is superb, and characterized by the richness of the vase collection. The vases come from the period of the 6th century BC to the 3rd century BC and are excellent examples of Attic pottery, in black figure, in red figure, and with white background. Dating from this period is the beautiful Attic crater attributed to the Painter of Kleophrades from about 500 BC, one of the great masterpieces of Attic Pottery in the Severe style.
The next, Room 5 is dedicated to the many shrines of Agrigento. These are mostly terracotta votives, extremely expressive, representing: divinities that often wear a headdress and a series of necklaces on their chest; and female figurines bearing gifts, (a flower, a vase, a lamp, and very often a pig) of the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic ages (6th – 3rd century BC). In the center of this very large hall is a central room, set below, that dominates the scene. It is the room dedicated to the Temple of Zeus, one of the most majestic constructions and at the same time the most original in all of Greek architecture. Today, completely destroyed (what remains are its imposing ruins), the temple originally measured around 112.70 x 56.30 meters. And it was probably supposed to be 30 meters high! This colossal monument was built by the Acragantini to celebrate the victorious battle of Himera between the Greeks and the Carthaginians (480 BC). The most striking feature of the construction were the telamons that supported the weight of the entablature. Visitors are often stupefied when observing these gigantic stones, almost 8 meters high!
Their original number was 7 on the front and 14 on the long side. A reconstructed model of the temple gives us a perfect idea of how it used to be.
In addition to the telamons, another huge masterpiece, is the Greek marble statue of Efebo, 1.02 meters tall, datable to about 480 BC. It is an original work from the era of Thiron standing with his arms and right leg extended forward and his right arm raised. At the end of the museum there is the magnificent prehistoric room. Among the many, many things are the relics from the Bronze Age.
After spending about 3 hours in this fascinating museum, we debated whether to make the hour and a half trip back to Selinunte to see more ruins of Greek temples, or to head for the pool. It was not much of a debate and, within half an hour, we were in our suits in a chaise lounge by the pool with a spectacular view of the Temple of Concordia. This was so tiring that nap time ensued followed by a cocktail out on our patio and a couple of games of doms.
Once again, the most difficult and important decision of the day was where to have dinner. I checked out a number of places on TA and we finally decided to eat at the hotel’s restaurant and we were not disappointed. It is hard to describe how romantic this place is. We are seated with an immediate view of the Temple Concordia which, when it is lighted at night, is one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. Couple this with a wait staff that cannot do enough for you, and a piano player that plays one amazing romantic song after another. Tonight we had a different sommelier, a young woman, Simona, who took special time to go over the wine list and the selections we had. Then, after dinner, she brought us wonderful aperitifs from the area, and wrote out several restaurants for us to consider on our next two stops.
In addition, this time, I chose my own menu (prosciutto and melon followed by spaghetti carbonara...I know, I'm boring...but I also know what I like) and the chef was happy to comply with my requests. The food was outstanding and this was certainly among the top five dining experiences in my lifetime.
Tomorrow is traveling day, so buona notte for now.