Agrigento Museums - Agrigento Churches - Agrigento Regional Archaeological Museum - Agrigento Cathedral - Agrigento Pirandello?s House - travel links
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Agrigento Guide Italy

Churches and Museums

Churches and Museums

Agrigento, medieval and modern, rises from the tops of the hills that dominate the Valley of the Temples. The nucleus of the city is a labyrinth of alleyways and courtyards with a classically Arab flavor. Entering this labyrinth, one discovers a treasure trove of churches and buildings.

The entry into the medieval city is Aldo Moro square. From here begins the 18th century Via Atenea, flanked by old buildings, shops and pleasant cafés. Along Via Atenea lies the baroque church of San Lorenzo; to the left of the church is the open entrance to the ancient hypogeum, a web of subterranean aqueducts built in the 5th century B.C.

The Cathedral
can be reached by going up the alleys from Piazza Pirandello. The building is preceded by a spectacular grand staircase. Its construction dates from the 11th century, but it has undergone many alterations through the centuries, giving it a completely unique appearance. The façade is flanked by an unfinished bell tower, which is embellished by a richly decorated balcony. The inside, divided in three naves, is a triumph of baroque decoration. But perhaps most impressive is the wood ceiling, richly adorned so that it appears to be a hanging garden. Make sure to visit the chapel of San Gerlando, in the right transept.

The Church of Santo Spirito
is a Cistercian convent, constructed in 1260, its beautiful gothic portal surmounted by a rose window. The inside is a single nave with enclosed sculptures in stucco. Make sure to visit the adjoining convent, with its beautiful cloister, where you can purchase local sweets of almonds and pistachios, made by the nuns who live here.

Regional Archaeological Museum
Hours: Open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Located between the modern city and the Valley of the Temples, in the center of the Hellenistic-Roman quarter. The 18-room museum holds numerous interesting findings from Agrigento and the surrounding region, arranged by expository theme. The museum contains an outstanding collection of Attic vases, including the famous Crater of Dionysus, as well as the marble statue of Ephebus of Agrigento, a young athlete who lived in the 5th century B.C.

Church of San Nicola
Next to the Archeological Museum stands the Church of San Nicola.
This church, constructed in the 13th century, is made of volcanic rock taken from ruins of the Temple of Zeus. Entering through the beautiful Romanesque portal, you will come upon the unique nave. The second chapel to the left contains the Roman sarcophagus of Hippolitus and Phaedra, much loved by Goethe during his stay in Agrigento. The sarcophagus is decorated with bas-reliefs telling the tragic story of Phaedra and her stepson Hippolitus, who was exiled or killed by order of Phaedra because he did not return her love.

Pirandello's House
South of Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples, lies the birthplace of the playwright Pirandello. The house has been converted into a museum, preserving both written and graphic materials: family photos, portraits of the writer, theatrical images, manuscripts, and editions of theatrical works and novels. Make sure to follow the short path through the pines, where Pirandello loved to sit and contemplate. This is where the author wanted to be buried. A simple stone marker, retouched by the sculptor Mazzacurati, guards the urn containing the ashes of the Master.

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Photos are courtesy of: AAPIT Agrigento and APT Trapani

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