The UNESCO series: The Archaelogical area of Agrigento


Agrigento (or Girgenti as the locals are used to call it) is a small city on the south eastern coast of Sicily. However it is also a former Greek Colony called Akragas. The Greek heritage is still well preserved, although 3000 years of history have passed since their presence so that what we see today are the remains of a huge city rich of temples, named after the Greek pantheon.

However there is no other location (not even in Greece) where the greek prence is still so tangible to make a visit to the so called “Valley of the Temples” and extraordinary archaelogical experience able to convey the full feeling of what living at that time was looking like as well their cultural and religious heritage. Thus Agrigento is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. take a guided tour here and discover why the site is so valuable for all of us.

The Temple of harmony – Agrigento. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century B.C., Agrigento became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean world. Its supremacy and pride are demonstrated by the remains of the magnificent Doric temples that dominate the ancient town, much of which still lies intact under today’s fields and orchards. Selected excavated areas throw light on the later Hellenistic and Roman town and the burial practices of its early Christian inhabitants.

Valley of the temples

The archaeological area of Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples, is on the southern coast of Sicily and covers the vast territory of the ancient polis, from the Rupe Atenea to the acropolis of the original ancient city, as well as to the sacred hill on which stand the main Doric temples and up to the extramural necropolis.

Founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century BCE, Agrigento became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean region. Its supremacy and pride are demonstrated by the remains of the magnificent Doric temples that dominate the ancient town, much of which still lies intact under today’s fields and orchards. Selected excavated areas reveal the late Hellenistic and Roman town and the burial practices of its early Christian inhabitants.

Agrigento has a special place among classical sites in the history of the ancient world because of the way in which its original site, typical of Greek colonial settlements, has been preserved, as well as the substantial remains of a group of buildings from an early period that were not overlain by later structures or converted to suit later tastes and cults.

Valley of the Temples – Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

The archaeological area of Agrigento includes all the essential elements that contribute to the justification of its Outstanding Universal Value. The site boundary includes the entire territory of the ancient polis, including the extramural area of the necropolis, the substantial excavated areas of the residential area of Hellenistic and Roman Agrigento, the complex network of underground aqueducts and a wide portion of land where there are still unexcavated archaeological structures. The archaeological structures have been preserved in good condition, thus ensuring an authentic representation. However, land instability remains an issue.

Valley of the temples – Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

The authenticity of the archaeological sites of Agrigento is outstanding. Although some restoration work carried out in the late 18th and 19th centuries CE did not follow the principles of modern conservation as set out in the 1964 Venice Charter, subsequent restoration works have resolved the problems of previous restoration methods and have compensated for past mistakes. Recent works have been conducted in full compliance with the principles of modern restoration.

If you are planning your next trip to Sicily, don’t miss this outstanding archaelogical area and, if you travel in summer, book your entrance by 06.00 pm as the sun migh be pretty scortching during the day.

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