Agrigento (Italian: [aɡriˈdʒɛnto] (listen); Sicilian: Girgenti [dʒɪɾˈdʒɛndɪ] or Giurgenti [dʒʊɾˈdʒɛndɪ]; Ancient Greek: Ἀκράγας, romanized: Akragas; Latin: Agrigentum or Acragas; Arabic: Kirkent or Jirjent) is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy and capital of the province of Agrigento. It was one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece with population estimates in the range of 200,000 to 800,000 before 406 BC.
Girgenti / Giurgenti (Sicilian)
|Comune di Agrigento|
Agrigento as seen from the Temple of Hera (Juno) in the Valley of the Temples.
Coat of arms
Signat Agrigentum mirabilis aula gigantum
Location of Agrigento
Location of Agrigento in Italy
|Frazioni||Fontanelle, Giardina Gallotti, Monserrato, Montaperto, San Leone, Villaggio La Loggia, Villaggio Mosè, Villaggio Peruzzo, Villaseta|
|• Mayor||Calogero Firetto (UdC)|
|• Total||245.32 km2 (94.72 sq mi)|
|Elevation||230 m (750 ft)|
|• Density||240/km2 (630/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||St. Gerland (Gerlando)|
|Saint day||25 February|
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 BC 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 6th-century tyrants Phalaris and Theron, and became a democracy after the overthrow of Theron's son Thrasydaeus. At this point the city could have been as large as 100,000 to 200,000 people. 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 BC. Akragas never fully recovered its former status, though it revived to some extent under Timoleon in the latter part of the 4th century.
The city was disputed between the Romans and the Carthaginians during the First Punic War. The Romans laid siege to the city in 262 BC and captured it after defeating a Carthaginian relief force in 261 BC and sold the population into slavery. Although the Carthaginians recaptured the city in 255 BC the final peace settlement gave Punic Sicily and with it Akragas to Rome. It suffered badly during the Second Punic War (218–201 BC) when both Rome and Carthage fought to control it. The Romans eventually captured Akragas in 210 BC 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 BC.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city successively passed into the hands of the Vandalic Kingdom, 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 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 and other peoples around this time. In 828 AD the Saracens captured the diminished remnant of the city; the Arabic form of its name became كِركَنت (Kirkant) or حِرحَنت (Jirjant).
Following the Norman conquest of Sicily, the city changed its name to the Norman version Girgenti. In 1087, Norman Count Roger I established a Latin bishopric in the city. Normans built the Castello di Agrigento to control the area. The population declined during much of the medieval period but revived somewhat after the 18th century.
In 1860, as in the rest of Sicily, the inhabitants supported the arrival of Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Expedition of the Thousand (one of the most dramatic events of the Unification of Italy) which marked the end of Bourbon rule. In 1927, Benito Mussolini through the "Decree Law n. 159, July 12, 1927" introduced the current Italianized version of the Latin name. The decision remains controversial as a symbol of Fascism and the eradication of local history. Following the suggestion of Andrea Camilleri, a Sicilian writer of Agrigentine origin, the historic city centre was renamed to the Sicilian name "Girgenti" in 2016. The city suffered a number of destructive bombing raids during World War II.
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 Minoan times until the 1970s, and were worldwide exported from the nearby harbour of Porto Empedocle (named after the philosopher Empedocles who lived in ancient Akragas). In 2010, the unemployment rate in Agrigento was equal to 19.2%, almost twice the national average.
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 BC. 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 Hera 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 AD. 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 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 BC: 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 BC.
The remains of the temple were extensively quarried in the 18th 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 BC 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 1st-century AD 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 14th century cathedral and the 13th century Church of Santa Maria dei Greci ("St. Mary 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.
Agrigento is twinned with:
The 1994 UCI Road World Championships took place in Agrigento, Italy between 21-28 August 1994.Agrigento Airfield
Agrigento Airfield was a military airfield in Sicily, just to the northwest of Agrigento; approximately 5 km northeast of Porto Empedocle.
A pre-war Regia Aeronautica Italian Air Force base, the airfield was a primary objective of the Operation Husky landings. After being secured, it was used by the United States Army Air Forces Twelfth Air Force 31st Fighter Group, equipped with three squadrons (307th, 308th 309th) of Supermarine Spitfires. Later, it was a command and control base for the 52d Troop Carrier Wing from 1 September 1943-13 February 1944.
The airfield is also notable because many Italian Air Force airplanes landed at Agrigento in the days immediately following the armistice between Italy and the Allied armed forces in early September 1943. The Regia Aeronautica 8° Gruppo Macchi C.200 fighters landed at Agrigento on 13 September. Most were worn out and obsolete, no longer useful for combat, however Italian crews scrounged any parts that they could to keep their aircraft flying against the Germans. Later, the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force (ICBAF or ACI) was formed and incorporated these aircraft.
After the American use of the base ended, it was turned over to the Italian Air Force for its use. Today, the site of the airfield is abandoned, although several runways and what appears to be a former sports facility (also abandoned) is visible at the former airfield site.Campobello di Licata
Campobello di Licata (Sicilian: Campubbeddu) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily, located about 110 kilometres (68 mi) southeast of Palermo and about 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Agrigento.Canicattì
Canicattì (Italian pronunciation: [kanikatˈti]; Sicilian: Caniattì) is a town and comune (municipality) in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily, located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) southeast of Palermo and about 34 kilometres (21 mi) east of Agrigento. In 2016, it had a population of 35,698.Casteltermini
Casteltermini is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily, located about 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Palermo and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of Agrigento.
Casteltermini borders the following municipalities: Acquaviva Platani, Aragona, Cammarata, Campofranco, San Biagio Platani, Sant'Angelo Muxaro, Santo Stefano Quisquina, Sutera.Cianciana
Cianciana is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily, located in the middle valley of the Platani river, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) south of Palermo and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Agrigento. The Monte Cammarata, elevation 1,579 metres (5,180 ft) above sea level, part of the Monti Sicani chain, is nearby.
Cianciana borders the following municipalities: Alessandria della Rocca, Bivona, Cattolica Eraclea, Ribera, Sant'Angelo Muxaro.Lillo Firetto
Calogero Firetto, commonly referred to as Lillo Firetto, is an Italian politician.He is a member of the centrist party Union of the Centre and served as Mayor of Porto Empedocle from 2006 to 2015. Firetto was elected Mayor of Agrigento at the 2015 Italian local elections supported by both centre-right and centre-left parties. He took his office as mayor on 3 June 2015.List of mayors of Agrigento
The Mayor of Agrigento is an elected politician who, along with the Agrigento's City Council, is accountable for the strategic government of Agrigento in Sicily, Italy. The current Mayor is Lillo Firetto from the centrist party Union of the Centre, who took office on 3 June 2015.List of railway stations in Sicily
This is the list of the railway stations in Sicily owned by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, a branch of the Italian state company Ferrovie dello Stato.Palma di Montechiaro
Palma di Montechiaro (Sicilian: Parma di Muntichiaru) is a town and comune in the province of Agrigento, Sicily, southern Italy.
Formerly known as Palma, in 1863, Montechiaro was added to the name, in honour of the Chiaramonte family whose stronghold is close to the town.Porto Empedocle
Porto Empedocle (Sicilian: Marina) is a town and comune in Italy on the coast of the Strait of Sicily, administratively part of the province of Agrigento. It is the namesake of Empedocles, a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of the city of Agrigentum (present-day Agrigento), in his day a Greek colony in Sicily. The primary industries of Porto Empedocle are agriculture, fishing, ironworking, pharmaceuticals and rock salt refining.Province of Agrigento
The Province of Agrigento (Italian: Provincia di Agrigento; Sicilian: Pruvincia di Girgenti; officially Libero consorzio comunale di Agrigento) is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily in Italy, situated on its south-western coast. Following the suppression of the Sicilian provinces, it was replaced in 2015 by the Free municipal consortium of Agrigento. It has an area of 3,041.90 square kilometres (1,174.48 sq mi), and a total population of 474,493. There are 43 comunes (Italian: comuni) in the province.Ribera, Agrigento
Ribera (Sicilian: Rivela) is a comune in the province of Agrigento, Region of Sicily, southern Italy, between the Verdura and Magazzolo valleys in the so-called Plain of San Nicola.
The town is connected by the SS115 state road, leading from Trapani to Syracuse. The Platani River, the third Sicilian river, flows nearby. It has enormously contributed to developing both farming and tourism in the area. Its mouth has been designated as a natural reserve.Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Agrigento
The Italian Catholic Archdiocese of Agrigento (Latin: Archidioecesis Agrigentinus), in Sicily, was elevated to archiepiscopal status in 2000. The historic diocese of Agrigento was also known as the Diocese of Grigenti, and Diocese of Agrigentum. It used to be a suffragan of the archdiocese of Monreale.Sambuca di Sicilia
Sambuca di Sicilia (Sicilian: Sammuca) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily, located about 68 kilometres (42 mi) southwest of Palermo and about 89 kilometres (55 mi) northwest of Agrigento.
Sambuca di Sicilia borders the following municipalities: Bisacquino, Caltabellotta, Contessa Entellina, Giuliana, Menfi, Santa Margherita di Belice, Sciacca.Santa Elisabetta
Santa Elisabetta (Sicilian: Sabbetta) is a small town (municipality) in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily, located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Palermo and about 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of Agrigento.
Santa Elisabetta borders the following municipalities: Aragona, Joppolo Giancaxio, Raffadali, Sant'Angelo Muxaro.Sciacca
Sciacca (Italian: [ˈʃakka]; Greek: Θέρμαι; Latin: Thermae Selinuntinae, Thermae Selinuntiae, Thermae, Aquae Labrodes and Aquae Labodes), is a town and comune in the province of Agrigento on the southwestern coast of Sicily, southern Italy. It has views of the Mediterranean Sea.Temple of Olympian Zeus, Agrigento
The Temple of Olympian Zeus (or Olympeion; known in Italian as the Tempio di Giove Olimpico) in Agrigento, Sicily was the largest Doric temple ever constructed, although it was never completed and now lies in ruins. It stands in the Valle dei Templi with a number of other major Greek temples.Valle dei Templi
The Valle dei Templi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈvalle dei ˈtɛmpli]; English: Valley of the Temples; Sicilian: Vaddi di li Tempri) is an archaeological site in Agrigento (ancient Greek Akragas), Sicily. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture, and is one of the main attractions of Sicily as well as a national monument of Italy. The area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1997. Much of the excavation and restoration of the temples was due to the efforts of archaeologist Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta (1783–1863), who was the Duke of Serradifalco from 1809 through 1812. The Archaeological and Landscape Park of the Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world with 1,300 hectares.The term "valley" is a misnomer, the site being located on a ridge outside the town of Agrigento.
Archaeological sites in Sicily
|Province of Agrigento|
|Province of Caltanissetta|
|Province of Catania|
|Province of Enna|
|Province of Messina|
|Province of Palermo|
|Province of Ragusa|
|Province of Syracuse|
|Province of Trapani|