Why Visit Agrigento:
Agrigento is a large town in Sicily near the Greek temples archaeological park and the sea. Visitors travel here to visit the Valle dei Templi, Valley of the Temples, one of Sicily's must-see sites. The area was a Greek settlement 2500 years ago and there are extensive remains of Greek temples that can be seen in the archaeological park. The Temple of Concord, beautifully perched on a ridge, can be seen as you approach the area. The town itself has a small and interesting historic center.
Agrigento is in southwestern Sicily, overlooking the sea. It's just off the main road that runs along Sicily's south coast. It's about 140km south of Palermo and 200 km west of Catania and Syracuse. See Sicily Map on Europe Travel.
The town can be reached by train from either Palermo or Catania. The train station is on Piazza Marconi in the center of town, a short walk from the historic center. Buses go from town to the Valley of Temples archaeological area and to nearby towns, beaches, and villages. There are airports near both Palermo and Catania. Overnight ferries from the mainland arrive in Palermo.
Agrigento Tourist Information:
Tourist information offices are on Piazza Marconi by the train station and in the town center on Piazzale Aldo Moro. There is also tourist information near the parking lot at the Valley of the Temples archaeological park.
There are several restaurants near the historic center. We recommend the Concordia, just off Via Atenea, the main road along the lower part of the center. They serve good pastas and fish dishes. For a splurge, eat at the Villa Athena (see hotels below) on a nice day when they're serving on the terrace. It's by the Valley of the Temples (up the road past the main entrance) and along with excellent food, you'll have a stunning view of the temples.
Where to Stay:
The friendly Scala dei Turchi Bed and Breakfast in nearby Realmonte makes a good and inexpensive base for exploring the area. There is bus service between Realmonte and Agrigento. At the opposite end of the scale, you can stay at the 4-star Villa Athena (book direct) by the Valley of the Temples. Here are Agrigento hotels on Venere (book direct), a site I often use to book hotels in Italy.
The traditional Sicilian carts made by master cart maker Raffaele La Scala are in Agrigento. The carts are intricate and beautifully made. Find out more about the carts and see our Pictures of Sicilian Carts. It's possible to arrange a visit by contacting his son, Marcello La Scala, who maintains the workshop and carts. Raffaele La Scala web site
Valle dei Templi - Valley of the Temples Archaeological Park:
The Valley of the Temples archaeological park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's a large sacred area where monumental Greek temples were erected in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. They are some of the largest and best preserved Greek temples outside of Greece.
Europe Travel has beautiful photos of the temples on Pictures of Agrigento's Valley of the Temples.
Valley of the Temples Visiting Information:
Highway SS 118, off the coast highway SS 115. Follow signs for Valle dei Templi (not Agrigento centro).
Collina dei Templi - 8:30 to 19:00 daily
Area di Zeus - 9:00 to 17:00 daily
Museum - 9:00 to 19:00. Sun. and Mon., 9:00 to 13:00
Tip: To visit both the archaeological park and museum, buy a combination ticket. You don't have to visit everything on the same day, the ticket is good for one entrance at each place. In spring 2008, the cost of the combination ticket is 10 euro.
Valley of the Temples on the web - check here for updated information on admission fees, hours, and guided tours.
Valley of the Temples Archaeological Park - What to See:
The archaeological park is split into two sections, divided by the road. There's a big parking lot where you can park for a small fee. There you'll find the ticket office, souvenir stands, a bar, restrooms, and the entrance to one section of the park, the area di Zeus. Across the street is a second section, Collina dei Templi, where you'll find the most complete temple remains lined up on a ridge, another bar, and restrooms. There's also a ticket booth and entrance at the opposite end of the Collina dei Templi section.
Further up the road toward town is the very good Regional Archaeology Museum with a few more ruins near it. There's a free (as of 3/08) parking lot just past the museum.
- The Temple of Herakles, Ercole, is the oldest of the temples still standing, dating to around 500BC. It's the first temple you come to when entering the Collina dei Templi section from the large car park.
- The Temple of Concord, Tempio della Concordia, from 430 BC, is the most intact of the temples. It's better preserved because it was used as a church. Sitting on the hill, it can be seen from a distance and offers good views of the valley below.
- Tempio di Giunone is the farthest from the car park in the Collina dei Templi section. It still retains a number of columns. There are good views from here, too.
- Roman tombs and Greek walls run along the pathway going to the three temples above.
- Remains of the ancient Agora are found near the parking lot and the entrance to the area di Zeus.
- Remians of the Tempio di Giove are just past the Agora.
- Giardino della Kolimbetra is an ancient olive and citrus garden.
- Remains of the Hellenistic and Roman quarter are across the street from the museum.
- Temple of Zeus and Gigante recreations, in the museum, show the size and form of temple. 38 gigante once supported the temple. The temple itself is now just a jumble of large stones but it was once the largest known Greek temple in the world.
- Other interesting exhibits in the museum include lion-head water spouts, a large collection of vases, and Roman mosaics.