The city of Agrigento originates from the ancient Akragas, that colonists from the neighboring Gela founded around 580 BC in a most favorable and fertile area. It is situated in proximity to the Acropolis and Rupe Atenea hills.
The Valley of the Temples testifies, dramatically, to Agrigento’s glorious past. Akragas was besieged and set on fire by the Carthaginians – who would then become close allies – in 406 BC. The Romans took it in 210 BC and renamed it Agrigentum. Their rule was characterized by periods of alternated fortune. The Arabs, who took it in 828, brought about a social and demographic growth. Under the Normans, who ruled since 1087, the city achieved political importance; its bishop seat was restored and re-organized and new important buildings such as the cathedral and other fortifications were erected across the territory. Agrigento also grew economically much due to important commercial relationships with North-African countries.
A demographic decrease was recorded in the following centuries (14th-17th), the power held first by a few aristocratic families, then the clergy. A new phase of social and economic prosperity would come in the 18th century.