Sicily is perhaps the most intriguing destination in Italy and Mediterranean Sea. It's a blend of ancient culture, interesting traditions and cordial hospitality. The mild and sunny Mediterranean climate makes a trip to Sicily pleasant all year round. Even in winter tourists can enjoy different outdoor activities, from sightseeing to sun bathing on golden beaches! This island is comprised of breathtaking coasts, lush fields, rich cultures, fallen empires and ancient myths.
Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian language) is a picturesque town on the southern coast of Sicily and capital of the province of Agrigento. The city was established around 582-580 BC and by the Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas. Akragas grew very fast, becoming one of the richest and most important of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. It was conquered by the Carthaginians in 406 BC and after that it became prosperous under Roman rule, when its inhabitants received full Roman citizenship following the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
Nowadays, Agrigento is one of the major vacation resorts of Sicily due to its extraordinarily rich archaeological legacy. It also serves as an agricultural center for the whole surrounding province. Still, it's one of the poorest towns in Italy and it's renowned for the organized crime, particularly involving Mafia.
Agrigento is a town of Italy with modern architecture, having a few good hotels and villas for rent, but it still has a number of medieval and Baroque buildings. These include the cathedral from the 14 century and the church from the 13 century called Santa Maria dei Greci ("Our Lady of the Greeks"), standing on the site of an ancient Greek temple. The town also has a notable archaeological museum displaying finds from the ancient city.
Agrigento is a historical city near "Valle dei Templi" (Valley of the Temples), which features the finest Greek ruins outside of Greece. The classic Greek poet Pindar called it "the most beautiful city built by mortal men".
Temples in "Valle dei Templi" are unique not just in Italy, but also in the entire world. "Tempio di Castore e Polluce" (Temple of Castor and Pollux) was reconstructed over one hundred years ago by people who didn't know what they were doing. They slapped together elements from diverse ruins on the site. "Tempio di Giove" (Temple of Jupiter) was never completed. At more than 330 feet (about 130 meters) long it was one of the largest Greek temples ever built. "Tempio di Ercole" (Temple of Hercules) is the oldest of these temples. It was partially reconstructed eighty years ago. "Tempio della Concordia" (Temple of Concord) is said to be the best-preserved Greek temple on earth. It was converted into a Christian church in the sixth century and restored in the eighteenth century. "Tempio di Giunone" (Temple of Juno) has an exceptional view of the valley below. On its ruins tourists can see traces of the fire that occurred more than twenty-four hundred years ago!
Across from the Temple of Castor and Pollux are several smaller temples that tourists may want also see. The Hellenistic and Roman Quarter consists of four old streets with mosaic pavements and some Roman house foundations. Right nearby is located "Museo Archeologica Regionale" (Regional Archeological Museum) with lots of antiquities.