For the best look at ancient Greek temples, go to Italy

The Agrigento Ruins in Sicily, Italy
The Agrigento Ruins in Sicily, Italy

The Parthenon may be the world's most famous Greek temple, but if you really want to know what the Acropolis was once like, then you should leave Greece and head over to Sicily.

The Valley of the Temples near Agrigento, Sicily, is a collection of seven ancient Greek temples, all in various stages of preservation. Agrigento, or Akragas as it was called at the time, was founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century B.C.

Thanks to its location on the southern coast of Sicily, the settlement quickly became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean world. Doric-style temples were erected on hills to demonstrate the city's power. Despite the area being invaded by Romans in the 3rd century, followed by Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, the temples remained largely untouched, making them a treasure in the eyes of archeologists and historians.

A look at the spectacularly preserved Sicilian temples:

The Temple of Concordia is widely acknowledged as the second most complete Greek temple in the world, behind Temple of Hephaistos in Athens, which still has its stone roof. The temple of Concordia managed to survive in pristine condition because it was adapted into a Christian church by a bishop.

The oldest temple in area is the Temple of Hercules, while the now-ruined Temple of Zeus was once the one of the biggest Greek temples in antiquity.

Not only are there ancient temples, but the vast archaeological site is also home to catacombs that visitors can walk through to see how citizens were once entombed.

UNSECO named the Valley of the Temples a World Heritage Site in 1997.

Originally published