Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Alice Bifarella

Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Alice Bifarella


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Join an archaeologist for a virtual walk along the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily. We’ll look at its unique remains and landscape, and examine how the city’s most transformative events unfolded throughout its history.

“Loveliest of mortal cities, abode of Persephone, you who dwell upon the well-built height above the banks of the Acragas”, those are the words used in the 5th century B. C. by the Greek poet Pindar to describe Akragas (now Agrigento). The amazing beauty of this city has attracted awe-struck visitors for centuries and we will discuss just how and why.

Colonists from the nearby colony of Gela and from the Greek island of Rode built the city of Agrigento in 580 B.C. After a long series of tyrannical rulers, a decisive victory against the Carthaginians at the famous battle of Himera in 480 B.C., the advent of democracy, and rapid and robust economic development propelled Agrigento to the pinnacle of its power. We’ll discuss how the impressive archeological remains testify to its past prosperity and power. We’ll learn about the Punic wars and their outcome, which changed the city’s fate: Sicily became the first Roman colony.

Akragas then became Agrigentum, and wealth returned thanks to the flourishing sulfur trade. We’ll move on to discuss the late antiquity when the city area shrank and moved up to the northern side of the plateau. A great many edifices disappeared under newer structures, while others were reconverted or simply disassembled to make a place for other construction projects. The area of the temples on the southern hill was soon occupied by a Christian cemetery, the temple of the Concordia was transformed into a church, and the surrounding countryside was devoted to agriculture and breeding.

Placed in the World Heritage List in 1997, today the Archeological site of Agrigento is one of the most outstanding and well-preserved examples of a Classical Greek site. Led by an expert on archaeology, Alice Bifarella, this interactive seminar will uncover the history of Agrigento through its ancient ruins. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased desire to travel to Sicily and explore this amazing site.

Alice Bifarella holds a degree in Classics from the University of Bologna and a postgraduate Master's degree in Art History and Archaeology from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris. She has been working for many years as a field archaeologist. Since the beginning of her career, her main goal has been to make archaeology and art more approachable to the general public. Her long experience as a museum educator has given her the training to work easily both with children and adults. She likes to see herself as an enthusiast and passionate ambassadress of Sicily’s cultural heritage.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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