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Agrigento, Italy

Ruins of the Temple of Hercules (c.500 BC) at Agrigento, Sicily. Photo Creative Commons License Jérôme Bon.

Agrigento (Greek: Acragas or Akragas; Latin: Agrigentum; Arabic: Kerkent; formerly: Girgenti) is a town on the southwest coast of Sicily with a current population of about 60,000. In ancient Greek times, Agrigento was one of the most prosperous cities in the region, as evidenced by its impressive array of seven Doric temples dating from the 5th century BC. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea against a backdrop of almond and olive trees, these ancient temples are one of the most evocative sights in Sicily.

Agrigento was founded in 580 BC by Greek colonists from Gela (Sicily), who had themselves come from Rhodes a hundred years earlier. After a period of tyranny in the 6th century, Akragas became a flourishing democracy known for its high-quality wine, olives and horses. It had a population of about 200,000 in the 5th century BC, when most of its famous temples were constructed.

In 406 BC, Akragas was beseiged and finally defeated by the Carthaginians, who razed the city and purposefully burned and mutilated the temples. The city was patched up after Timoleon defeated Carthage in 340 BC, but it would never regain its original glory. The Romans took Akragas in 210 BC and it remained a Roman city called Agrigentum until the fall of the empire. The city fell to the Arabs in 827 AD and the Normans in 1087. Modern Agrigento has suffered from the decline of the sulpher industry but is now recovering thanks to tourism and the export of the quality produce that still grows in its fertile soil: almonds, wine, oranges, olive oil and vegetables.

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Sacred Sites and Religious Attractions in Agrigento

  • Agrigento Temples
    Agrigento in Sicily is home to eight ancient Greek temples from the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Located just south of the modern city, the temples are nestled among olive trees on a ridge near the sea.