was founded by farmers from the Greek Isles in the 6th century BC.
It was originally called Akagras, meaning "high land"
because it was founded on a high plateau with natural walls more
than 8 miles long that served as a natural fortress. In ancient
times, Akagras had a natural seaport at the mouth of the river (now
dry) and it became the most important trade center in the Mediterranean.
It was famous for its grains, olive oil, wine and white horses.
During the 5th century BC there were over 300,000 people living
in Akagras, making it the 4th largest city in the world at that
time. Now there are only 60,000 people living there.
Greeks built several temples along the valley to honor their gods.
When the Romans conquered Akagras in the 3rd century BC, they used
the temples but renamed them for Roman gods. They also changed the
name of the city to Agrigento. The Valley of the Temples area includes
the ruins of these temples. Most were destroyed during the 6th century
because they were considered pagan. Many of the stones were carried
away to build houses. Some of the temples have been reconstructed
using original stones. Only
the Temple of the Concord was not destroyed. Instead it was used
as a church until the 18th century.
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