Ancient part of an Old Town
Ancient part of the Old Town is really an interesting place to take a walk. Wehn walking trough those narrow streets and stone buildings, with arabian archs, you get a feeling of being in Morocco, rather than Italy. In fact, not only architecture is different there from what one could expect in italy, but being an old part abandoned some time ago, later on it became a place where many maroccians live now.
Temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno)
Built around the 5th century BC this temple was dedicated to the goddess of marriage and childbirth. It was erected on the highest point in the valley, which is located in the southeast corner. In 406 BC the Carthaginians came along and ransacked the city. Before all was said and done they set the temple on fire. It was initially constructed with 34 columns of which 30 still remain standing.
Agrigento: The Ups and Downs
We arrived in Agrigento after dark with no clear adea of how to find the street of our hotel. Agrigento is a large(56K pop.) hilltown sprawled out over the upper reaches of a narrow steep ridgetheMonte Camico(300 m alt; also called Rupe Atenea) where the acropolis once stood, and where the city center now is.Our route to the city was rt. off S115 on S118 which took us by the Valley of the Temples entrance (floodlit , but not a time to stop). We wound our way up to the Piazzale Aldo Moro where luckily the Tourist Office was still open. With difficulty (no maps) they explained the double U turn required to get us on the hotel street. Arriving we were informed that our reservations had been requisitioned by the regional police;the hotel was the site of an emergency anti-terrorist training conference! They readily located another place around the corner(with parking) just off the Viale della Vittoria (Hotel del Viale, described).
Our experience may not be helpful. We stayed 2 nights, out of season, and used a car. Parking at the Via Sacra, the Museo, other sites that we were able to find, a trip to a restaurant with a different view (see Ristorante Vulcano tip), and our hotel in town, were no problem. Buses go up and down from town (every 30 min?) and saving your walking and time is critical. Summer heat must be extreme. From what I can learn at VT it seems 90% of travellers are on tours so the bus controls and delivers. But you must plan ahead. To see the (whole) Via Sacra area takes a good 2 hours.the museum 1 hr, getting around 2 hours, lunch(? time and where).We did not walk the town except at night during the giant passagiata on the via Atenea(when we went out for dinner).Of course you could go slower and see more of the present town.
The major Temples and ruins are distributed along a ridge(100m alt) about 2+km from the coast beyond lowlands containing 2 E-W roads. On this ridge is an E-W paved path (called the Via Sacra) for pedestrians (admission fee).To the N another 2 km carved into and sprawling over the cliff is the modern city of Agrigento (where the Acropolis once was(300 alt.) In between is an area of variably dipping and markedly rising terrain. Here are sited the Museo, a couple of high-class hotels and the ruins of Akragas. Today this land is the subject of a fierce struggle between preservationists (at present winning?) and exploiters (Mafia and others). All the other hotels are in the city far above or in surrounding communities as are the restaurants and the citizens.