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Meraviglie di Sicilia

Agrigento

Overview

  • Agrigento

    Overview

    Agrigento is one of the most famous cities in Sicily. As a matter of fact, Agrigento is world famous for its Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi). Here are the remaining monuments of the ancient city of Akragas founded in the 6th century BC by colonists from Gela and transformed, in about 100 years, into the 'most beautiful city of mortals' (Pindar). Subsequently, Akragas (Agrigento) was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 406, rebuilt in 340 BC, and experienced new glory. But suddenly, with the arrival of the Byzantines, it was destined for its final decline. The ancient village was then abandoned in the 9th century, after the Arab conquest, and was reduced to a small area on a hill overlooking Girgenti, from which Agrigento later took its name. Having passed to the Normans, the city was elected a diocese and adorned with numerous churches. Thus new buildings and monuments continued to spring up between the 14th and 15th centuries and also later between the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1927, the municipality took the name Agrigento and today has 56,000 inhabitants.

    Monuments

    The Cathedral, founded at the end of the 11th century by Bishop Gernso, in Gothic-Norman style, l was enlarged and modified several times from the 14th to the 17th century. Of great importance is the Cathedral Treasury, which is particularly rich in works of art of high historical and artistic value. Prominent among them is the famous Sarcophagus of Phaedra, a marvellous and elegant marble work from the Roman era. The cathedral archives house a unique and mysterious document, the 'devil's letter', a 17th century manuscript found by a nun, written in incomprehensible characters. The Convent of the Holy Spirit The Convent of the Holy Spirit is one of the most beautiful monuments in Sicily. In fact, it was built in 1260 and consists of the church and the later Cistercian monastery. The Church of San Lorenzo e Ipogeo, otherwise known as 'Purgatorio', was built in the 17th century in place of an older, more sacred building of the same name. Inside, with a single nave, one can admire eight beautiful female statues by Giuseppe and Giacomo Serpotta, representing the virtues: Meekness, Religion, Strength, Justice, Love, Simplicity, Charity, Prudence. Also adjacent to the former monastery, which is also the seat of the Municipal Offices, was the 'Luigi Pirandello Theatre' by G.B. Basile. It has now been restored and so, after many years of restoration work, has returned to its original splendour. To find out more about Agrigento, you can visit the following sites:

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