During its thousand-year history, the city had as many as four names, including (for the Normans) ‘Girgenti’, which remained the city’s official name until 1927, when (during Fascism), it was decided to Italianise the name given to the city during Roman rule (i.e. Agrigentum) and call it Agrigento.
The city was founded in 581 B.C. by some inhabitants of Gela from the islands of Rhodes and Crete, under the name of Akragas, and was initially established under the tyranny of Falarides (570-554 B.C.), which was characterised by a policy of inward expansion, a fortification of the walls and the embellishment of the city.
Maximum development was reached under Theron (488-471 BC), during whose tyranny the city counted between 100,000 and 200,000 inhabitants and its territory expanded as far as the coast to the north of Sicily. Akragas managed to defeat Carthage several times during the war for control of the Sicilian Channel. After the death of Theron, a democratic regime finally began (471-406 B.C.) established by the philosopher Empedocles, who refused the power offered to him several times by the people themselves. This period witnessed the construction of temples and great economic prosperity, which unfortunately in 406 BC, the Carthaginians led by Hannibal destroyed when they invaded the city, literally razing it to the ground. The Corinthian Timoleon, in 339 BC, was the one who rebuilt the city. In 210 BC with the Second Punic War the city came under the control of the Roman Empire.
The Valley of the Temples is the most important archaeological site, as well as the largest in the world, suffice it to say that the temple of Zeus Olympius was the largest temple in the whole of Magna Graecia; on the site there are ten temples in Doric order, three sanctuaries, several necropolises, waterworks, fortifications, two Agora (lower and upper), as well as an Olympeion and a Bouleuterion (i.e. a council chamber).
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