Known for the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Akragas and the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento is a hilltop city on Sicily’s southwest shore. Its vast archaeological site and well-preserved temples made it a UNESCO World Heritage site famous all over the world. As a matter of fact, the city has a lot of wonders to offers such as the Scala Dei Turchi, artifacts and a Telamon, and the dazzling Valley of the Temples. Accessible by daily buses and trains coming from Palermo and Catania, the modern city of Agrigento, though it’s unappealing first look, has also many things to bring to travelers and visitors. In this article, we’ll look at 8 unmissable things you have to do around the city to get the most out of your Sicilian holiday.
1. Valle dei Templi
If you like ancient Greek art and don’t mind walking, this place is a must! Located at the outskirt of the town of Agrigento, the Valle Dei Templi (or the Valley of the Temples) is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture in the region. From the ruins of Akragas, one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily founded around 582 BC, this huge and well preserved archeological site might be one of the main attractions of Italy. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Valley of the Temples is indeed, the largest archaeological site in the world with 1,300 hectares (247 acres). Here you’ll get busy for a while trying to see and discover this amazingly big area of rare beauty.
Valle dei Templi
Address: 92100 Agrigento, AG, Italy
Website: Valley of the Temples
2. Temple of Olympian Zeus
The largest Doric temple ever constructed in the past (480 BC), the Temple of Zeus in Agrigento was one of the largest ever built sacred buildings: 113 meters (370 feet) wide and 56 meters (183 feet) high, and is now lying in ruins in the Valle dei Templi. Even in ruins, you’ll be amazed by its colossal statues of Telamons, (7.65 meters (25 feet) high) and its facades decorated with sculptural representations of the Gigantomachy and the Fall of Troy. This is definitely one place to add to your “to do list” around Agrigento.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Website: Temple of Olympean Zeus or Jupiter
3. Chiesa Santa Maria dei Greci
Built in 1200 on the ruins of an ancient Greek-Byzantine Doric temple, the Greek church of Santa Maria is a famous religious architecture of Agrigento. There you’ll be able to gaze at the traces of its foundations, remains of the cell and its facade featuring a portal-style gothic Chiaramonte. The house of many art pieces such as 14th-century wooden ceilings or frescoes, the church is a great testimony of Sicily’s complex and rich history.
Chiesa Santa Maria dei Greci
Address: Salita Santa Maria dei Greci, 92100 Agrigento, Italy
Website: Santa Maria dei Greci
4. Agrigento Cathedral
This Norman-Gothic Church was founded around the end of the 11th-century but has been enlarged and remodeled several times since then. Nowadays, visitors can gaze at the many wonders of this impressive structure: its magnificent mullioned windows, its facade flanked by the wonderful unfinished 15th-century bell tower, etc. The interior of the church will surprise you with its richly painted, wooden ceiling and its sumptuous atmosphere where you will appreciate the great historical and artistic value of the cathedral such as the famous sarcophagus of Phaedra, and the Episcopal Seminary.
Cathedral of Agrigento
Website: Cathedral of Agrigento
5. Museo Archeologico
Containing a giant telamon, Sarcophagus, and lovely painted Greek vases spanning the 6th to 3rd-centuries BC, Agrigento’s Museo Archeologico Regionale is worth a visit. The first building you encounter while heading to the Valley of the Temples, the museum complex is located nearby The Ekklesiasterion, a beautiful 4th-century BC assembly arena. In short, the museum is the best place to start your endless exploration of the rich archeological area of the Temples’ Valley.
Address: Contrada San Nicola, 12, 92100 Agrigento, Italy
6. Tempio di Hera
Built around 450 BC, the Temple of Juno, also known as the Temple of Hera Lakinia is a Greek temple of the ancient city of Akragas, located in the Valle dei Templi. This monumental peripterotic Doric temple, with its numerous columns, is around 38 meters (124 feet) long by 17 meters (55 feet) wide. Discovering the monument, and walking through the rigorous artistic perfection of its columns, is like traveling through time and you’ll love to get lost in the historic atmosphere that the temple diffuses.
Temple of Juno
Address: 92100 Agrigento, Italy
Website: Tempio di Giunone (Era) Lacinia
7. Monastero di Santo Spirito
Built around XIII century, this building of great architectural interest overlooks the Temples’ Valley and houses the Civic Museum and the Sinatra Gallery. It is nowadays one of the oldest and best-preserved monasteries in Sicily. Passing by the ‘Badia Grande’ monastery entrance, you’ll enter the large courtyard where you’ll admire the beautiful inner chapel, the chapter hall, the refectory and the other secondary environments of the building. As a matter of fact, the monastery has numerous places, dormitories, rooms and areas for you to look at and to walk through, admiring the shapes and architectures around.
Monastero di Santo Spirito
Address: Cortile Santo Spirito, 9, 92100 Agrigento, Italy
Website: Monastero Santo Spirito
8. Agrigento's beaches
The surroundings of Agrigento feature many great beaches where you’ll have a good time enjoying the Sicilian chilled out vibes. You’ll love the sandy and never too crowded beach of the Scala Dei Turchi, with its curving white walls, forming an exceptional backdrop, enhancing the already mesmerizing nature around. You’ll maybe prefer the unspoiled dunes of Porto Palo, with its fine white sand, shallow depths, and limpid clear seas for an unforgettable and peaceful relaxation time on the sunny shore.
Furthermore, part of an unspoiled nature reserve, the beach of Eraclea Minoa is backed by a thick pine wood and to the east is marked off by the long white cliff of Capo Bianco, and will be a great place to go for those looking for a leisurely discovery walk before going to the beach.
Scala dei Turchi
Address: Agrigento, Sicily
Website: The beaches of Agrigento
A walk in time in Agrigento
The ancient Greek city of Akragas, now known as Agrigento, is a mesmerizing place in Sicily where you’ll have a great opportunity to discover the indescribably rich history of this part of the Mediterranean. With these 8 unmissable things to do around the city, you’ll travel back in time to the Roman civilization that once governed the entire antique world. Unmissable!
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