TIn a natural, romantic frame of carob, pistachio, almond and ancient olive trees and vineyards, looking out to the African sea, lies one of the most splendid and better preserved relics of the ancient Greek world, testimony of its great power and art and one of the vastest archaeological areas of the Mediterranean sea. Its glorious tuff Doric temples are among the greatest examples of Greek architecture and an amazing sight to see, both during the shining sunny days and the breath-taking Sicilian sunsets. Part of the UNESCO Heritage since 1997, the archaeological area of Agrigento lies on the southern shore of Sicily, between the rivers Platani e Salso.
The ancient city of Akragas was built around 500 b.C. on a hillside, by Greek settlers from Gela and Rhodes and it is a symbol of a “living” past, a past which does not simply rest in books or memories; quite the opposite, it is still appealing and alive for the eyes of the tourists that every year, choose Agrigento as their holiday destination.
With its 1300 acres expansion, it is the vastest archaeological area in the world, hosting many temples and other important architectural attractions.
The most famous temples are those built along the Via Sacra, the most renown of which is the Temple of Concord, in addition to the temples of Juno, Castor and Pollux and Esculapion.
Magnificent as they undoubtedly are, these temples are by no means the only sights worth seeing: the tourist can easily admire the necropolis, the Roman- Hellenic area, the hypogeum districts, and the ancient places of reunion.
Or, seeking refuge from the hot Sicilian sun, the visitor can enjoy the citrus smells and cool breeze and shades of the Kolymbetra garden, and walk through its refreshing waterworks, right at the core of the archaeological area.
The extraordinary environmental and naturalistic significance of the area perfectly blends with religious and social commitment, characteristics which identified the people living in the valley, as shown by the different kind of buildings found in the area, as the ekklesiastèrion (seat of the ekklesia assembly of all free citizens), the bouleutèrion (seat of boulè, that is the senate or civil council) and Phalaris oratory (Roman- Hellenic temple). The strategic importance of the area is demonstrated by the fact that it was fought upon by Romans and Carthaginians.
The archaeological museum of the city, perfectly inserted in a wonderful naturalistic context, is a state-of-the-art institution and it is constantly up-to-date with technology and research and can be therefore classified as one of the best examples of museum in Europe because of the efficient organization of the exhibition; its flagship is without a doubt Room VI, hosting a magnificent reproduction of the giant Telamon, (7 metres and 75 cms tall), which was originally located in front of the Temple of Olympian Zeus
The archaeological area of Agrigento is the perfect choice for many tourists on an international level, not only for the undisputed cultural and naturalistic merits, but also for the folklore initiatives the area hosts each year, as for example the Sagra del mandorlo in fiore, during which the Mediterranean traditions and cultures meet and involve the tourist in a colourful whirlwind of traditional dances, music and food from all the countries looking out on the Mediterranean sea, a great occasion to “visit” them all while staying in the same place.
Not too far from this area lie other famous attractions, ranging from literature to nature, from arts to architecture: only 4 kms away, in Kaos district stands the house of Pirandello, Nobel Prize winner and one of the most famous Italian dramatists of the XIX century.
Same area, totally different scenario: Scala dei Turchi, a breath-taking sight of pure white raising from the deepest blue. Scala dei Turchi is an imposing clay and white marna cliff, excavated from water and wind and now resembling a huge natural stair, an attraction not to be missed in a Sicilian holiday.
The Greek poet Pindar defined Agrigento “splendour-loving city, most beautiful on earth”, and it is indeed, for in Agrigento myth and reality blend together to present the tourist with one unforgettable travelling experience.