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unesco world heritage site Agrigento unesco world heritage site

History

The city was founded on a plateau overlooking the sea, with two nearby rivers, the Hypsas and the Akragas, and a ridge to the north offering a degree of natural fortification. Its establishment took place around 582 BCE-580 BCE and is attributed to Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas. The meaning of the word is unclear, though various explanations were advanced for it, such as that it referred to a legendary founder, Akragante; however, these were probably retrospective explanations of an obscure name.
Akragas grew rapidly, becoming one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. It came to prominence under the tyrants Phalaris and Theron, and became a democracy after the overthrow of Theron's son Thrasydaeus. Although the city remained neutral in the conflict between Athens and Syracuse, its democracy was overthrown when the city was sacked by the Carthaginians in 406 BCE. Akragas never fully recovered its former status, though it revived to some extent under Timoleon in the latter part of the 4th century BCE.
The city was sacked by both the Romans and the Carthaginians in the 3rd century BCE – the Romans in 262 BCE and the Carthaginians in 255 BCE. It suffered badly during the Second Punic War (218 BCE-201 BCE) when both Rome and Carthage fought to control it. The Romans eventually captured Akragas in 210 BCE and renamed it Agrigentum, although it remained a largely Greek-speaking community for centuries thereafter. It became prosperous again under Roman rule and its inhabitants received full Roman citizenship following the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city passed into the hands of the Byzantine Empire. During this period the inhabitants of Agrigentum largely abandoned the lower parts of the city and moved up to the former acropolis, at the top of the hill. The reasons for this move are unclear but were probably related to the destructive coastal raids of the Saracens, Berbers and other peoples around this time. In 828 CE the Saracens captured the diminished remnant of the city and renamed it Kerkent in Arabic; it was thus Sicilianized as "Girgenti". It retained this name until 1927, when Mussolini's government reintroduced an Italianized version of the Latin name.
Agrigento was captured by the Normans under Count Roger I in 1087, who established a Latin bishopric there. The population declined during much of the medieval period but revived somewhat after the 18th century. In 1860, the inhabitants enthusiastically supported Giuseppe Garibaldi in his campaign to unify Italy (the Risorgimento). The city suffered a number of destructive bombing raids during the Second World War.

unesco world heritage site The valley of the temples

The archaeological area known as the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, is one of the most important archeological sites in the world and a Unesco world heritage site since 1998. Along a long rocky scarp, chosen as the southern limit of the town, are still sited the great temples of ancient Akragas: Hera (Juno) Lacinia, Concordia, Heracles (Hercules), Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) and Hephaistos (Vulcan). Further down, on the bank of the Akragas river, near a medical spring, stood the Temple dedicated to Asklepius (Eusculapius), the god of medicine. At the mouth of the river there was the harbour and emporion (trading-post) of the ancient city.

Temples of Hera, Concordia and Herakles:
every day 8:30- 22:00
Saturday, Sundays and public holidays 8:30- midnight
Last admission half an hour prior to closing time.
Tickets can be purchased only at the ticket office down the parking area in front of the Tempio d'Ercole from 19:00 to closing time.

Temple of Zeus, Sanctuary of Chtonian deities and Temple of Dioscuri: every day 9:00- 19:00
Admission: Euro 6,00 per person
Discounted: Euro 3,00
Combined ticket: (Temples + Museum): Euro10,00
Discounted: Euro 5,00
Information: phone 0922.497226

Temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno)
temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno) Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

The temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno) was built around the 5th century BC and set on fire by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. It was attributed to Juno, the goddess of marriage and birth, and it still keeps unchanged the entrance cell colonnade (in part restored in the 20th century). Exiting the temple and going east, there is its altar.

Temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter)
temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

The temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) was built to thank Zeus after the successful war of the Agrigentinians against the Carthaginians in 480 BC. Originally the temple was 113 metres long and 56 metres large, one of the most impressive in ancient times. It had a trabeations supported by 20 metre tall columns alternated by the so-called Telamoni, huge man-like statues. Many of the tufa blocks have peculiar U-shape cuts, which were used to channel the rope when lifting and setting the stones.

Temple of Hephaistos (Vulcan)
Temple of Hephaistos (Vulcan) Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

Very little is left of this temple dedicated to the god of fire. According to legend this god had a forge located underneath Mount Etna.

Temple of Asclepius (Esculapius)
Temple of Asclepius (Esculapius) Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

Dedicated to the Greek god of medicine, who was son to Apollo. Many people visited this temple because it was believed that Asclepius had the power to heal all those who were sick. It was constructed during the 5th century BC and what is left of the temple can be found in the middle of the countryside.

 
Temple of Concorde
Temple of Concorde Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

The temple of Concorde is the only temple still standing in its whole. It was built in 430 BC, and in the 6th century BC it was changed into a sacred building: you can still see the arches included in the central cell walls. Here there are massive tapered columns and the frieze is decorated with triglyphs and metopes. The name Concorde comes from a Latin inscription founded nearby the temple itself.

Temple of Heracles
temple of Heracles Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

The temple of Heracles (Hercules) is the oldest and eight tapered columns are still standing (they are slimmer at the top in order to look taller.

temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri)
temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

The temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) was built in the 5th century BC and dedicated to Leda and Zeus's twins. The temple, which is also the symbol of Agrigento, has only four columns and some of the trabeation standing. Close to it, two sacrificial altars have been found. One is a square, the other one is a rectangle, probably belonging to an original sanctuary dedicated to the infernal gods.

Quartiere ellenistico romano
Quartiere ellenistico romano Agrigento Sicily tourism VALLEY OF TEMPLES

 

Tomb of Theron

Looking south there is the Tomb of Theron (Terone), a grandiose tufa stone monument. It is pyramid-shaped and was built to commemorate the soldiers died during the Second Punic War.

 

Other monuments

City hall
City hall Agrigento Sicily tourism

 

Cathedral
Cathedral Agrigento Sicily tourism

 

 
Monastero di s. Spirito
Monastero di s. Spirito Agrigento Sicily tourism