Archaeology

The city of Akragas, defined as the “most beautiful city of those inhabited by man” by the Greek poet Pindar, was founded by colonists from Gela and Rhodes in 580 BC. The settlement sits atop a plateau not far from the coast, sheltered to the north by the hills of Rupe Atenea and Colle di Girgenti, to the south by the so-called Collina dei Templi - hill of the temples, and surrounded by the rivers Akragas and Hypsas. Its port (empórion) is located at the mouth of the two rivers where the fishing village of San Leone is found.
Between the middle of the sixth century and the end of the fifth century BC, the city was the site of feverish construction; indeed, the majority of the remains visible today and the imposing 12-kilometre wall with its nine gateways date to this period. From the tyrannies of Phalaris and Theron through to the arrival of democracy expounded by the philosopher Empedocles, Akragas grew from a small settlement to a large city state with a population of over 200,000 inhabitants.
Destroyed in 406 BC by the Carthaginians, prosperity did not return to the city until the rise of Timoleon in the late third century BC. During the Punic Wars, the Carthaginians defended the settlement against the Romans, who seized control of the city in 210 BC.
During the Roman era, the city - renamed Agrigentum - underwent a period of monumental urban redevelopment as new public buildings - including at least two temples, the theatre and the bouleuterion - were built, with the new constructions centred around the hill of Saint Nicolas, where the town's Museum of Archaeology now stands. The most opulent villas in the nearby Hellenistic-Roman quarter also date to this period. The wealth of Agrigentum's residents most likely relied on the mining, refining and trade of sulphur, as documented by various inscriptions.
In late antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the Valley of the Temples was occupied by a sprawling Christian burial ground that extended both underground and in the open air.
During the Muslim conquests of the Arabs, Berbers, Spanish, Egyptians, Syrians and Persians between 829 and 840 AD, it is believed that the settlers withdrew to Colle di Girgenti (derived from Arabic word Gergent or Kerkent), where the medieval and modern city was later developed.
During this period, the Valley of the Temples was inhabited in a sporadic manner and became the site of agricultural production and craftsmanship, with various ceramic workshops documented by the presence of several kilns. Over the centuries, the old monuments of the ancient city were steadily deprived of their brickwork for use in the construction of the buildings around Girgenti and the ancient harbour of Porto Empedocle.

1_Temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno)

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno) is located on the highest rocky spur of the Valley of the Temples at its easternmost point.
Like most of the temples in the Agrigento area, it is not possible to discern to…

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2_Temple of Concordia

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The so-called Temple of Concordia is one of the best preserved temples of Greek antiquity.
The building owes its traditional name to a Latin inscription dating to the mid-first century BC which mentions the “Concordia degli Agrigentini”. The inscription was erroneously attributed to…

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3_Paleo-Christian Necropolis

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Paleo-Christian Necropolis of Agrigento dates to the third to sixth century AD and extends across the Collina dei Templi roughly between the Temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno) and the Temple of Heracles. The vast burial ground is divided into various sectors.

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4_Necropoli Giambertoni

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

 

On leaving Grotta Fragapane, by turning right you will reach the rear entrance to Villa Auream while left leads to the Roman necropolis known as Necropoli Giambertoni, formed of limestone chest tombs. Several sarcophagi have been discovered here, such as the famous child's sarcophagus…

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5_Theron’s Tomb

VISIBLE FROM THE OUTSIDE

 

Theron's Tomb, as it is known, located close to the Temple of Heracles, is a funeral tower dating to the late Hellenistic period which once featured a spire. In fact, the tomb has nothing to do with the tyrant of Akragas who lived…

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6_Temple of Asclepius

VISIBLE FROM THE TEMPLES HILL OR ON REQUEST

This temple devoted to Asclepius (Greek God of Medicine and son of Apollo) is located around 900 metres south of the outer wall of the ancient city on the San Gregorio plain.
The attribution to the celebrated Cult of Asclepius in…

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7_Temple of Heracles

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Temple of Heracles is the oldest Doric temple in Agrigento and was built in the late sixth century BC.
Its attribution to the Greek hero is thought to derive from a passage by Cicero which notes the existence of a…

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8_Temple of Olympian Zeus

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The ruins of the temple of Olympian Zeus bear testament to one of the largest Doric temples of classical antiquity. Unfortunately, the area - likely already damaged by earthquakes in the past - was used as a quarry in the Middles Ages…

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9_Gate V

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

 

Since its foundation Akragas was surrounded by an outer wall extending for around 12 km. The fortifications used the defensive potential of the rocky outcrops, as noted by the Greek historian Polybius. Nine gateways have been identified along the fortifications, numbered by archaeologists from east…

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10_Sanctuary of the Chthonic Deities and Temple of Castor and Pollux

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The area known as the Sanctuary of the Chthonic Deities is, in fact, the central part of a series of adjacent places of worship devoted to subterranean gods (in this case Demeter and Persephone) located alongside Porta V.
The northernmost part…

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11_Temple of Vulcan

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Temple of Vulcan (Hephaestus in Greek) is located on the hill to the west of the Garden of Kolymbetra which separates it from the far south-west of the Collina dei Templi and the Sanctuary of the Chthonic Deities.
As is…

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12_Gymnasium

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

 

The only ancient gymnasium at the site belongs to Agrigentum, that is, the city during its Roman occupation. In fact, the gymnasium dates to the Augustan age and was constructed in a public space just a few hundred metres north of the Temple…

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13_Theatre

VISIBLE FROM OUTSIDE OR ON REQUEST

The rediscovery of the theatre after centuries of research was an epochal and long-awaited find for Agrigento.
The building was discovered in June 2016 just to the south of the Roman Hellenistic quarter along the southern side of the hill of Saint Nicolas…

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14_The Ekklesiasterion and Oratory of Phalaris

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Ekklesiasterion and so-called Oratory of Phalaris are found on the southern side of the hill of Saint Nicolas, in an area adjacent to the eponymous church and the fourteenth century monastery (now home to the Regional Museum of Archaeology).
The…

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15_Bouleuterion

VISIBLE FROM THE OUTSIDE OR ON REQUEST

The Bouleuterion located on the northern terrace of the hill of Saint Nicolas was the chamber of the public house of representatives (Boulè in Greek) and was built between the end of the fourth century and the start of the third century BC.

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16_Hellenistic-Roman Sanctuary

VISIBLE FROM THE OUTSIDE OR ON REQUEST

To the north of the fourteenth century Monastery of Saint Nicolas (now the Regional Museum of Archaeology) stands the Hellenistic-Roman Sanctuary, a small temple surrounded by a vast piazza with a portico.
The complex was constructed over two stages, from the second…

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17_Roman Hellenistic Quarter

VISIBLE FROM THE OUTSIDE OR ON REQUEST

The Roman Hellenistic Quarter, which extends for around 10,000 square metres, is an important testament of the residential culture of the ancient settlement. Twenty-seven houses (domus) located in three apartment buildings (insulae) are bordered by four north-south road axes known as cardines. The living…

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18_Temple of Demeter (Church of Saint Blaise)

VISIBLE FROM THE OUTSIDE OR ON REQUEST

On the eastern slopes of Rupe Atenea, one of the two hills over which the city of Agrigento extends, stands the Temple of Demeter, built in approximately 470 BC.
Today the ruins of the temple have been incorporated into the Church of…

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19_Temple of Athena (Santa Maria dei Greci)

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

On the hill of Girgenti, one of the two plateaus on which the modern city of Agrigento is built and outside the archaeological site of the Valley of the Temples, the remains of a Doric temple dating to the middle of the fifth…

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20_“Pietro Griffo” Regional Museum of Archaeology

CAN BE VISITED WITH COMBINED TICKET

The Agrigento Regional Museum of Archaeology is named after Pietro Griffo, archaeologist and Superintendent of Agrigento from 1941 to 1968. The site chosen for the museum, the hill of Saint Nicolas, is highly symbolic as it is located at the centre of…

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