Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sicily ~ Part III ~ Greek Temples

One of the highlights of my visit to Sicily was seeing so much history. The island of Sicily was first inhabited by the Greeks who wanted to make the island a Greek colony, thus gaining more land on which to farm to feed their burgeoning population. Sicily was thought of as the "Garden of Eden". The soil was so fertile, being made up of mostly volcanic ash. It was also situated favorably for sea trade with the surrounding nations.

However, Sicily has a thorny history of many nations all wanting to conquer whoever was the ruling party of the day. The Phoenicians, Carthagenians, Moors, Spaniards, the French, the Normans, the Tunisians.....................

My tour of western Sicily was led by the head of the Italian Department of a local college. She did her PhD dissertation on the life of Luigi Pirrandello, a native of Sicily, who was awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize for literature. It is my belief that she (the Professore) knows everything there is to know about Sicily (the history, the language, the geography, the religions, the weather patterns, the sea surrounding it, and then some. This set of circumstances led to a very history oriented tour. We did not just walk upon paved streets, and nice, even sidewalks, visiting churches and museums, eating at quaint bistros and sipping latte machiatos, although we did that as well. We also climbed mountains in 80 degree heat with sandals on! We scaled hills consisting of sand, rocks, pebbles, stones and tree roots.

Valle Dei Templi is where we're headed

Temples were erected on the highest spot of land available, in order to give proper honor to the deity plus a birds eye view of his/her loyal subjects all spread out at his/her overseeing/ruling feet.

The Greeks had many gods, and built many temples. Among those we visited were temples of Zeus, Hercules, Hera, Demeter, Persephone and the Acropolis.

One thing about temples is: they all look the same. It seems there's a prescribed architectural plan. The temples the Greeks built in Sicily were built from 800 to 500 years before Christ. Many of  them are showing signs of age but not all. I understand that it took approximately 20 years to build a temple at a time when the life expectancy was 40 years!

You can see the steps down from the temple. On the lower level was the altar.

I was amazed at the design of the temples. They had an inner room, completely dark, in which the god dwelt plus much treasure. Around this inner room, there were open and sunlit corridors, with pillars surrounding on the outer walls. Then steps down to the lower level where the ordinary people gathered to make sacrifices to the god. Our guide described this as a "Barbeque" because, usually, an animal was sacrificed on the altar which was situated outside of the temple, on the ground level. Some of this sacrifice was offered to the god. Then the worshippers enjoyed the barbeque.

This all sounded familiar to me because of what I read in my Bible of the directions that Jehovah God gave to Moses regarding how to build a residence for Him. He gave specific instructions about every detail. I find it amazing that His specifications for worship were followed by later generations. He was the originator of the temple building architectural plans.

It is my understanding that the Hebrew nation is now living in the year 5776. If the Greeks built the Sicilian temples 800-500 years before Christ, they were built approximately 2800 years ago, (3000 years ago, give or take).  That means about 2700 years before the Greeks built the Sicilian temples, the children of Israel built a temple to their one and only God, Yaweh, erecting it according to the precise specifications that the Lord gave to Moses.

I am amazed by this..........



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by. I loved hearing from you.

  2. Oh wow, Sicily! The history is so amazing -to actual touch the same materials as people living 2000 -3000 years ago is incredible. As an American, anything even 200 years old is pretty impressive. I have the travel bug so bad. (& as an architect, the architecture is certainly a highlight for me)
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I never thought about the ancient temples that way, but you are so right about them being patterned after God's temple. What a neat experience.

  4. Love the way you presented your perspective on the timeline of temple building in Sicily/Greece with Israel. Very thought provoking.

  5. I love all the history you are giving. And thanks for telling about the temples, I've always had a hard time picturing what the temples were like back in the days they were used, since they're mostly ruins now.

  6. I love all the history you are giving. And thanks for telling about the temples, I've always had a hard time picturing what the temples were like back in the days they were used, since they're mostly ruins now.