Ancient Sicily – visiting Agrigento

Scala dei Turchi, Porto Empedocle, ©Francesca Gallina/Flickr

Scala dei Turchi, Porto Empedocle, ©Francesca Gallina/Flickr

The town of Agrigento is situated on a plateau that overlooks the southern coast of Sicily. This ancient town was founded by Greek colonists around 582 BC as Akragas but evidence prove that the region was inhabited even before that time. There is a village from the Mesolithic age down the coast in the direction of Montechiaro Castle which dates back to 6000 BC. The ancient people of Sicily, in other name the Sicani, are the descendants of the civilization that lived here. When the Romans arrived they renamed the town to Agrigentum, then later the Arabs renamed it again to Grigenti. The town got its present name, Agrigento, in 1927.

Charm of Agrigento

The ancient town of Agrigento has several historical buildings and monuments which radiates culture and history. One of these important constructions is the 14th century Romanesque Gothic cathedral which has a pinch of medieval character.

The Temple of Gemini and the modern city in the background, ©Alun Salt/Flickr

The Temple of Gemini and the modern city in the background, ©Alun Salt/Flickr

Another beautiful building is the Church of St Nicholas which was built during the 13th century.  The Saracen fortress stands only in ruins today but it is still worth visiting. Outside town you can also visit other ruins, theatres and Greek temples. Visit and discover ancient Sicily, Agrigento.

The Valley of Temples

Several temples, houses and necropolises are to be found in the shadows of Agrigento, the Valley of Temples. Most of the constructions here are in ruins but they are well worth seeing. Visit the amphitheatre, the auditoria and the archeological museum. This heritage site gives home to the temple of Hera and the temple of Concord, which can be dated back to 440-450 BC.

Greco Roman houses, ©Verity Cridland/Flickr

Greco Roman houses, ©Verity Cridland/Flickr

While you are here make sure you take a look at the stone columns which are carved in the form of humans. The architectural character of this ancient city has features both of Roman and Greek style. The valley is surrounded by almond orchards and olive groves which ornament the scenery quite well. Visit the town in February, soak up some culture and folklore and attend the almond blossom festival.

Other sights

If you go a little further up towards the shipping town of Porto Empedocle you will find a Roman villa, well what is left of it.

Scala dei Turchi, Porto Empedocle, ©Francesca Gallina/Flickr

Scala dei Turchi, Porto Empedocle, ©Francesca Gallina/Flickr

Take a dip on the beach nearby and also visit Luigi Pirandello’s birthplace. The house where he lived today is a museum and can be visited by the public. Near the Valley of the Temples you can also visit the archeological museum, San Nicola and the cathedral.

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