Holiday in Agrigento
The historic centre of Agrigento harbours myriad religious buildings, symbols of a particularly rich spiritual past, starting with its temples and continuing up to the present day, ranging from the Church of the Addolorata, famous for its underground crypts, to the Church of San Francesco di Paola, with its two bell towers. Other gems include the Church of San Giuseppe (with two bell towers and a unique nave) and the Church of San Domenico, both in the Baroque style. Especially worthy of a visit are the Church of Purgatorio, the Church of San Lorenzo and the Santo Spirito Abbey. The former is in Renaissance-Baroque style and has two allegories of Faith and Charity at the entrance and two twisted columns. There are eight female statues inside, representing the Virtues. To visit the ancient hypogeums of the city of Akragas, you pass beneath the stone lion to the left of the church The Santo Spirito Abbey, dating back to the thirteenth century, includes a church and a monastery. The church's façade visibly blends the Chiaramonte and Baroque styles, while inside the style dates back to the eighteenth century, with a coffered wooden ceiling bearing the Chiaramonte family crest. The adjacent monastery has one of the best preserved cloisters in Sicily, rich with Gothic portals through which you can reach the Chapter Room. The City Museum and the Sinatra Gallery are housed in the building.
The imposing Cathedral of Agrigento is located on the highest and furthest west point of the Girgenti hill, the oldest part of the city. The Norman-Gothic cathedral has been rebuilt many times, but was founded by Bishop Gerlando at the end of the eleventh century, then expanded over subsequent centuries. The Bell Tower was never finished and has Gothic-Catalan windows, as well as a balcony window framed by a pointed arch. The double eagle of Charles V is painted in the centre of the wooden ceiling inside the temple. Walking through the cathedral, you'll find the Chapel of San Gerlando (housing a reliquary of the Ark), the Chapel of De Marinis, the marble Madonna with Child, and the Cathedral Treasury, including the renowned Roman sarcophagus of Phaedra.
The jewel in Agrigento's crown is undoubtedly the Valley of the Temples, imposing remnants of Magna Graecia in Sicily. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's part of the largest archaeological park in the world, covering 1300 hectares. The Valley of the Temples holds 10 Doric temples, 3 sanctuaries and several necropolises: Montelusa, Moses, Pezzino, the Roman Necropolis with the tomb of Theron, the Early-Christian Necropolis and Acrosoli. There are many examples of ancient waterworks in the area, like the Garden of Kolymbetra, the Hypogeums, and many fortifications. Amongst the social gathering places of Ancient Greece, we can find the lower Agora near the Temple of Zeus, the upper Agora in the museum complex, and one of the Roman council rooms built on the Greek foundations. A real open-air museum, the Valley of the Temples is also home to the quadrangular Temple of Concordia, dating back to 430 B.C. The main cell was preceded by a very spartan ante-chamber with two columns, followed by a vestibule used as a treasury. Its amazing state of preservation makes this temple one of the most remarkable sacred buildings from the Classic era. Finally, the Temple of Hera is the crown jewel of the entire valley, which it observes from on high. Erected in 460 B.C., it's a magnificent temple with columns planted on four steps, built with twenty grooves and four drums. Inside you'll find an entrance hall and the inner chamber, where traces of the blaze started by the Carthaginians are still visible.
Agrigento is also Luigi Pirandello's birthplace. To get a sense of the Master's life, take the opportunity to visit his home and the theatre dedicated to him. His home is a few kilometres from the city in a countryside district called "Caos", amidst oak and olive trees perched on seaside cliffs. A Museum Library was also dedicated to Pirandello, full of history about the author and his heirs, containing over 5000 documents. If there's time left over, lovers of the sea must definitely visit the Lido di San Leone, the most famous seaside lido in the entire Agrigento province, at the foot of the Valley of the Temples. History, diverse cultures and traditions melt together in a unique place called Sicily, all easy to discover thanks to our last minute holiday offers to Agrigento.