Jack's travelblog

Greek temples and decorated churches

Friday 3 November it’s to the far west. First stop is Agrigento. The valley of temples. Well you could see the temples from the valley. An old Greek town from the fifth century BC, with several temples. First is Arcosoli Bizantini, an impressive temple. Next is the temple of Concordia. Really amazing. 2500 years old and still an impressive temple. How did they do it? Unbelievable. Hugh blocks of yellow limestone, a big complex. The sun is burning, no wind at all. But still great to be here. Back in ancient times. Along the road Roman and Christian grave yards. Somehow they cut graves into the city wall. Then a modern house. Some British captain build a house here. Totally out of place. Next again ruins of a temple. The temple of Hercules is basically a line of columns. A ladder stands against a column and a man on it is restoring the column to old glory. The stone blocks that lay next to it are impressive big. Cross the road and see the temple of Zeus. Not much left. A statue lays on the ground a big pile of stone blocks mark the spot of the temple.

Back to the car and to the coast. At Scala dei Turchi very white cliffs at the sea. The beauty of nature.

In Palermo we find the hotel in the centre and the lady shows us the parking spot around the corner. Diner at a fish restaurant. The octopus is very recognisable on the plate. Different. At the square around the corner we have a beer on the street like the locals. A scooter guy shows his skills, making a wheelie, a little girl is showing her skills on a board, a Smart drives by, all several times, ladies on too high heels, selling hot chestnuts with salt… this part of town is authentic and lively.

Saturday breakfast a la Casa Grant. Rosaletta likes Sicilian cookies, pizza and other delights for breakfast. So the guests do too. This morning we discover Palermo. First the archeological museum. Many statues and artefacts from the Greek period (5th and 6th century BC). Nice collection. The Greek already could produce such delicate painted pottery and statues. A bit further just some church, Chiesa di Santa Ninfa dei Crociferi, but the interior is rich. At the next junction an military fanfare is performing, it’s some national day. In the middle of the square Fontana Pretoria. White statues of naked man and women, and a line of animal heads spitting water. At the other side of the road again just some church. This time Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Teatini. Inside, again, lots of artwork and painting. Cattedrale Sante Vergine Maria Assunta is a big complex with a nice park in front. Inside less paintings, but silverwork and other richness. Palazzo dei Normanni is part of a military show. The next door Porta Nuova leads to Castello della Zisa. The sun burns and via Politeama Garibaldi we go back to the hotel. Get our stuff and leave Palermo to Monreale.

Traffic is of course one big mesh, but we find our way and soon Monreale is in sight. Park the car and walk the centre. The abbey garden is cool. The Duomo di Monreale is overwhelming. All ceilings and the upperparts of the walls are covered with mosaics. They tell stories from the bible. They really loved the gold mosaic.

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