What to see in Agrigento, the wonderful City of Temples

Agrigento is an ancient city founded around 580 BC by some settlers from the Greek islands of Crete and Rhodes. The settlers had baptized this city with the name of Akragas. The territory of Agrigento was inhabited by indigenous populations even before the arrival of the Greeks.

The name Agrigentum was given by the Romans that conquered the city during the Punic wars. Subsequently, it became Girgenti, renamed by the Normans, whose dominion was established after the Arabs and, at last, the official name was given in 1927.

Today Agrigento is also known as the City of Temples for its marvelous Valley, an immense archaeological wealth recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.

If you are planning to visit this wonderful city, here are some places you can’t miss during your trip!

Valley of the Temples

Let’s start from the majestic Valley of the Temples. UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valley is able to enchant anyone and bring you back in time!

The Park of the Valley of the Temples covers about 1300 acres and is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world. The remains of the Doric temples that it hosts are a fundamental and precious testimony of the Greek culture in southern Italy.

This wonderful place is framed by a rich, colorful and variegated landscape. Olive groves, vineyards, almond trees in bloom frame the Temples and create splendid postcard landscapes!

Besides the remains of Doric temples, sanctuaries and necropolis, it is also possible to visit the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento and the Garden of Kolymbethra.

The Regional Archaeological Museum

The Regional Archaeological Museum “Pietro Griffo” is located in Contrada San Nicola and is certainly one of the most important and most visited archaeological museums in Sicily.

Within the Museum you will find more than 5,600 artifacts arranged according to chronological and topographical criteria, illustrating the history of the territory from prehistoric times to the Greek-Roman age.

All the finds come from the funds of the Civic Museum and are the result of archaeological excavations conducted in the first decades of the last century. Others, however, come from private collections or from the Archaeological Museums of Palermo and Syracuse.

The most important part of the collections is represented by the discoveries made by the Superintendence of Agrigento in the excavation campaigns conducted from the 1940s to the present day.

The entire exposure is divided into eighteen rooms and two distinct but complementary sections. Each room has bilingual explanatory panels, both in Italian and English, guiding visitors and providing information on this precious exhibit.

The Historical Center

The historical center of Agrigento is a maze of alleys, steps, churches and cobblestones: the perfect place to get lost for an afternoon in search of the most beautiful hidden corners of this city!

Via Atenea is the main street that crosses the entire historic center. Along the way, you can find many signs and indications that will guide you among all the monuments and places worth seeing, the most emblematic and unmissable ones.

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is one of the most famous medieval monuments of Agrigento. With its immense structure, this monastery dominates the eastern part of the city and its imposing entrance, known as “Bataranni”, is located to the right of the Church of the Holy Spirit.

After passing through the portal and through a corridor, you will enter a large courtyard where, in addition to the garden, you can admire the wonderful western facade characterized by a dramatic bichromatic effect created by the alternation of limestone and sandstone from Agrigento.

The Monastery structure has two floors. The ground floor includes the Chapel, the Chapter House and the great Refectory. The upper floor is reached by climbing an internal staircase leading directly to the dormitory and to the nearby rooms for the Abbess and the Prioress. The stunning medieval frescoes in the northern part of the dormitory are also of great interest.

In 1916 the Monastery was ceded by the State to the Municipality of Agrigento and today is the seat of the Civic Museums.

The Cathedral of San Gerlando

The Cathedral of San Gerlando is the most important place of worship in Agrigento and is dedicated to the patron saint of the city. The building is an important testimony of the different artistic and architectural currents that dominated in Agrigento over the centuries.

The main construction was built in Norman times. The Cathedral has a Latin cross shape and stands on top of a flight of steps. Inside, the building has three naves, divided by pointed arches resting on octagonal pillars towards the entrance, there are also round arches on the columns near the transept and mixed combinations dictated by restoration work. There are numerous works of art to be admired inside this majestic Cathedral.

The house of Luigi Pirandello

If you are in Agrigento, you cannot miss a visit to the birthplace of Luigi Pirandello, one of the most important Italian authors of the last century and holder of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934.

Pirandello was born in 1867 in Girgenti, today’s Agrigento, and his fame is mainly linked to the world of theater. Prolific narrator and writer, among his most important works there is surely the novel Il fu Mattia Pascal.

Today, it is possible to visit his birthplace, located at about five kilometers from the city center, at contrada Caos, reachable by driving along the state road 115 to Porto Empedocle.

What to see nearby Agrigento

If you have more time and want to move out of Agrigento, you should know that around the City of Temples there are many beautiful places waiting for you! One of these is definitely Scala dei Turchi, a beautiful and white cliff overlooking the crystal clear sea.

Not far away, there is also Porto Empedocle, originally a small village of sailors known by the name of Marina di Girgenti; the current name is due to the homonymous philosopher. Andrea Camilleri was inspired by Porto Empedocle, where he was born, to describe his Vigata, the Sicilian village where Commissario Montalbano’s adventures take place.

It is also worth visiting the Oriented Natural Reserve Torre Salsa, a protected natural area located in the municipality of Siculiana, also in the province of Agrigento.

And now all that remains for you to do is travel, have a good trip!

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