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Agrigento
Girgenti
—  Comune  —
Comune di Agrigento
Church of San Lorenzo.

Coat of arms
Agrigento is located in Italy
Agrigento
Location of Agrigento in Italy
Coordinates: 37°19′N 13°35′E / 37.317°N 13.583°E / 37.317; 13.583
Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province Agrigento (AG)
Frazioni Fontanelle, Giardina Gallotti, Monserrato, Montaperto, San Leone, Villaggio La Loggia, Villaggio Mosè, Villaggio Peruzzo, Villaseta
Government
 - Mayor Marco Zambuto
Area
 - Total 244 km2 (94.2 sq mi)
Elevation 230 m (755 ft)
Population (31 Decembr 2008)
 - Total 59,136
 - Density 242.4/km2 (627.7/sq mi)
 - Demonym Agrigentine, Girgintan
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 92100
Dialing code 0922
Patron saint St. Gerlando
Saint day 24 February
Website Official website

Agrigento About this sound listen (Sicilian: Girgenti), is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas (also known as Acragas (Ἀκράγας) in Greek, Agrigentum in Latin and Kerkent in Arabic), one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece.

Contents

History

Agrigento 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 582-580 BCE and is attributed to Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas.

Akragas grew rapidly, becoming one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. It came to prominence under the sixth-century 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 fourth century.

Didrachm, 490-483 BCE.

The city was disputed between the Romans and the Carthaginians during the First Punic War. The Romans lay siege to the city in 262 BCE and captured it after defeating a Carthaginian relief force in 261 BCE and sold the population into slavery. Although the Carthaginians recaptured the city in 255 BCE the final peace settlement gave Punic Sicily and with it Akragas to Rome. It suffered badly during the Second Punic War (218-201 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 Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy and then 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. They pronounced its name as Kerkent in Arabic; it was thus Sicilianized as "Girgenti". It retained this name until 1927, when Benito 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 conquest of southern Italy (in the course of the Unification of Italy). The city suffered a number of destructive bombing raids during World War II.

Porta di Ponte.

Economy

Agrigento is a major tourist centre due to its extraordinarily rich archaeological legacy. It also serves as an agricultural centre for the surrounding region. Sulphur and potash have been mined locally since Roman times and are exported from the nearby harbour of Porto Empedocle (named after the philosopher Empedocles who lived in ancient Akragas). However, it is one of the poorest towns in Italy on a per capita income basis and has a long-standing problem with organised crime, particularly involving the Mafia and the smuggling of illegal drugs.

Main sights

Ancient Akragas covers a huge area — much of which is still unexcavated today — but is exemplified by the famous Valle dei Templi ("Valley of the Temples", a misnomer, as it is a ridge, rather than a valley). This comprises a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city where seven monumental Greek temples in the Doric style were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Now excavated and partially restored, they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself. They are listed as a World Heritage Site.

The best-preserved of the temples are two very similar buildings traditionally attributed to the goddesses Juno Lacinia and Concordia (though archaeologists believe this attribution to be incorrect). The latter temple is remarkably intact, due to its having been converted into a Christian church in 597 CE. Both were constructed to a peripteral hexastyle design. The area around the Temple of Concordia was later re-used by early Christians as a catacomb, with tombs hewn out of the rocky cliffs and outcrops.

The Temple of Concordia.

The other temples are much more fragmentary, having been toppled by earthquakes long ago and quarried for their stones. The largest by far is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, built to commemorate the Battle of Himera in 480 BCE: it is believed to have been the largest Doric temple ever built. Although it was apparently used, it appears never to have been completed; construction was abandoned after the Carthaginian invasion of 406 BCE. The remains of the temple were extensively quarried in the eighteenth century to build the jetties of Porto Empedocle. Temples dedicated to Hephaestus, Heracles and Asclepius were also constructed in the sacred area, which includes a sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone (formerly known as the Temple of Castor and Pollux); the marks of the fires set by the Carthaginians in 406 BCE can still be seen on the sanctuary's stones.

Many other Hellenistic and Roman sites can be found in and around the town. These include a pre-Hellenic cave sanctuary near a Temple of Demeter, over which the Church of San Biagio was built. A late Hellenistic funerary monument erroneously labelled the "Tomb of Theron" is situated just outside the sacred area, and a first-century CE heroon (heroic shrine) adjoins the 13th century Church of San Nicola a short distance to the north. A sizeable area of the Greco-Roman city has also been excavated, and several classical necropoleis and quarries are still extant.

Much of present-day Agrigento is modern but it still retains a number of medieval and Baroque buildings. These include the fourteenth century cathedral and the thirteenth century Church of Santa Maria dei Greci ("Our Lady of the Greeks"), again standing on the site of an ancient Greek temple (hence the name). The town also has a notable archaeological museum displaying finds from the ancient city.

Famous inhabitants

  • Empedocles, the Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, was a citizen of ancient Agrigentum
  • Luigi Pirandello, dramatist and Nobel prize winner for literature. Born at Contrada Kaos near Agrigento.

International relations

Twin towns — sister cities

Agrigento is twinned with:

References

  • "Acragas" The Concise Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. Ed. M.C. Howatson and Ian Chilvers. Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • "Agrigento", The Columbia Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press, 2004
  • "Agrigento" Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. John Everett-Heath. Oxford University Press 2005
  • "Agrigento" Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Italy : Sicily : Agrigento

Agrigento is a medium-sized city on the south coast of Sicily, Italy, famous for its Greek Valley of Temples.

Temple of Concord, Agrigento
Temple of Concord, Agrigento

Get in

By train

Frequent trains run from the station near the centre of town to Palermo and Caltanissetta, less frequently to Enna (but not that useful - the station in Enna is about 5km below the town). The journey to/from Palermo takes 2 hours and costs €7.45. Connecting with the east of Sicily by train is not easy, and takes a long time. The train station is at Piazza Marconi, on the southeast corner of the old town.

By bus

Frequent buses run to Palermo, Caltanissetta, Catania, Sciacca and close(ish) to Eraclea Minoa. A few also run to Gela and Trapani via Mazara del Vallo, Marsala and Castelvetrano (for Selinunte).

By Boat

There are daily boats and hydrofoils in summer (fewer boats and no hydrofoils in winter) from Agrigento's port 3km away - Porto Empedocle to the islands of Lampedusa and Linosa. See SIREMAR [1] and Ustica Lines [2]. There are frequent local buses from Porto Empedocle into Agrigento.

Get around

On foot

The town centre and its medieval streets can easily be reached on foot from the train station.

By bus

Frequent city buses run from outside the train station, stopping at the Archeological Museum and slightly further downhill, the main entrance of the Valle dei Templi. Buses 1, 2 and 3 all head down to the temples but you must buy your ticket before boarding from the bar inside the station (€0.90 for the 5-10 minute ride) and validate it once on board the bus. You could also walk, but it can get very hot in summer.

See

The Valley of Temples[3]

Temple of Herakles (Ercole), Agrigento
Temple of Herakles (Ercole), Agrigento

Stretching along a ridge to the south of the city are a string of five Greek temples, a sight worthy of comparison to the Acropolis itself in Athens. The temples are usually divided into two zones: the Eastern Zone and Western Zone each side of the main entrance and the road from the city centre. It can get punishingly hot in summer and there is little shade other than some olive trees along the ridge itself. Entrance costs €6 plus extra for an audio tour or a simple map (July 2007).

  • The first temple east of the entrance is the Tempio di Ercole or Temple of Hercules - long, thin and about 1/3 standing. It is the oldest of the temples, built towards the end of the 6th century BC. Next to it are some interesting deep ruts formed by ancient carriages.
  • Next heading east is the large Tempio della Concordia or Temple of Concord - a very impressive almost complete structure built around 440-450 BC.
  • The track the continues above small cliffs at the edge of the ridge to the Tempio di Giunone or Temple of Juno. Partially ruined, it offers a great spot to look back down the ridge to the other temples.
  • To the west of the main entrance is the massive Tempio di Giove or Temple of Jupiter which was never completed and is now in ruins with little structure visible. Most notable is one of the huge stone statues now lying on the ground.
  • Behind this is the small ruined Tempio di Dioscure.
  • Beyond the main temple site is the small, but interesting Tomba di Terone.

To put all these sights in context, it is well worth visiting the Archeological Museum (half way back into the city centre) and the adjacent Roman Quarter (with a few nice mosaics). Daily guided tours of the Valley of the Temples can be hired from VisitAgrigento [4] though an audio tour is available at the entrance to the temples.

Archaeological Museum and classical period living quarters

The Museum is about half way from the station to the Valley of the Temples and contains numerous artifacts taken from the site. It is purposely built to accommodate a huge telamon, reconstructed from pieces.

The residential quarters are on the other side of the road.

Old Agrigento

The old centre of Agrigento is also worth a visit.

  • Via Atena has a range of small shops and throngs with locals during the evening passeggiata.
  • The large cathedral is uphill in the northwestern corner of the town center on Via Duomo. Built around 1000 AD it has since been altered several times but today offers grand views across the valley. The cathedral is closed from 12-4PM.
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Greci, Salita Santa Maria dei Greci. An interesting Norman church built some 1000 years ago on the site of a an ancient Greek temple. Free.  edit

Festival

A visit at the time of the Festa del Mandorlo in Fiori (almond Blossom Festival) towards the end of February is to be commended.

Eat

Sample the Greek-influenced cuisine, especially eggplant (aubergine) and olive oil-based dishes.

  • Villa Nicoletta, Via Rosmunda 16 (Between Agrigento and San Leone, 2km from the sea), (), [5]. €20-25 per person.  edit
  • Belvedere Via San Vito 20 (+39) 0922 20051. Up some steps around the corner from the station. Large & plain, but cheap.
  • Oceano&Mare (Bed and Breakfast Oceano&Mare), Via Caterina D'Altavilla 35 (In San Leone, 200m from the sea and 4 from the Valley of the Temples), +39 0922 413041 (), [6]. €30 per person.  edit
  • Hotel Baglio della Luna, C.da Maddalusa S.S. 640, Km 4, 150, ph. +39 0922.511061 fax. +39 0922.598802 , [7]. The natural elegance of Sicily lives in the fascinating rural setting of Hotel Baglio della Luna, at the doors of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Very expensive
  • Camere a Sud, in the old town centre off Via Athena. Very small, tidy, stylish and modern B&B with nice breakfast served on the roof terrace [8].
  • Agrigento Hotel Villa Holiday, Small hotel at Agrigento with private car park 2km from the beach 4km from the Valley of the Temples.price= €45-55 for a double room.[9].email=info@villaholidayagrigento.com
  • Hotel Costa Azzurra, (Saint Leone).  edit
  • Hotel Dioscuri bay Palace, Set in a very nice bay, on the promenade of San Leone, the Hotel allows admiring the historical heart of Agrigento with its "Valle dei Templi".

The Hotel has got 102 rooms, all with balcony over the sea or the hinterland and is ideal for businessmen as well as for tourists. Bedrooms are decorated uniformly in soft colors and particular care has been taken for the small decorative details. All rooms are bright and offer modern amenities such as hairdryer, frigo-bar, telephone, TV color and balcony. Bathrooms are nicely up-to-date equipped and are provided either with bathtub or with shower.

  • Hotel Villa Athena, via Passeggiata Archeologica 33, 92100 AGRIGENTO http://www.hotelvillaathena.it. Luxury hotel located only 200 meters from the Concordia Temple.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Proper noun

Agrigento

  1. Province of Sicily, Italy.
  2. Town and capital of Agrigento.

Translations

  • French: Agrigente (1, 2)
  • Italian: Agrigento (1) , Agrigento (2) f.

Anagrams


Italian

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Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Agrigento

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Agrigento f.

  1. Agrigento (province)
  2. Agrigento (town)

Derived terms

Anagrams


Simple English

Comune di Agrigento
Country Italy
Region File:Flag of Sicily (revised).svg Sicily
Province Agrigento (AG)
Elevation 230 m (755 ft)
Area 244 km2 (94 sq mi)
Population (as of 2004)
 - Total 59,031
 - Density 242/km² (627/sq mi)
Time zone CET, UTC+1
Coordinates 37°19′N 13°35′E
Gentilic Agrigentine, Girgintan
Dialing code0922
Postal code 92100
Frazioni Fontanelle, Giardina Gallotti, Monserrato, Montaperto, San Leone, Villaggio La Loggia, Villaggio Mosè, Villaggio Peruzzo, Villaseta
Patron St. Gerlando
 - Day 24 February


Location of Agrigento in Italy
Website: www.comune.agrigento.it

Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian) is a city in the region of Sicily in southern Italy. It is also the capital of the Province of Agrigento. There are many relicts from the ancient Greeks and the Roman empire there.








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