Agrigento is located on a plateau overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on Sicily's
southern coast and surrounded by two rivers,the Hypsas and the Akragas. Agrigento was founded in 582 BC by a
group of colonists from Gela (who were the immediate descendants of Greeks from Rhodes and Crete) and was
named Akragas. However a half a million year old female skull ("girl of Mandrascava") was unearthed near
Cannatello, evidence that the area had been inhabited long before the Greeks.The town was destroyed by the
Carthaginians in 406 BC but was eventually rebuilt. Akragas was renamed Agrigentum by the Romans after being
conquered in 3rd century BC and was later renamed Girgenti after being conquered by the Saracens (Arabs).The
Arabs arrived in AD 828 and began to devlop settlements on the hills where the modern city now stands. The
area of the temples fell into decline and was soon abandoned. In 1401 the Temple of Zeus collapsed. In 1927
following the unification of Italy the city was finally christened Agrigento.
Things You May Not Know About Agrigento
The local speciality is jasmine or almond flavoured granita.
The Valley of the Temples are listed as a World Heritage Site.
Outside the Temple of Juno you can find the remains of a sacrificial altar.
Now you might not know this, but Agrigento has one of the oldest hypogea, dating back to the 6th century BC. And
what would that be? The hypogea, which are underground chambers, consists of a system of tunnels, channels, tanks
Agrigento was the home of Empedocles the philosopher who believed that matter was divided into four elements
Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
The 1934 Nobel literature prize winner Pirandello (1867-1936) was born in Agrigento and his ashes are buried
under a pine tree at his family home, known as "Il Caos".
The town of Sciacca which is about 65km from Agrigento is the home of Italy's oldest spa, found in the
"steaming" caves on the slope of Monte San Calogero. It also has an Enchanted Garden, created by Filippo
Bentivenga, where in a small section of forest, he has carved masks into the tree trunks. As you wander through the
forest you are greeted by hundred of faces staring back at you.