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The Old Town of Agrigento

The old town of Agrigento represents, with its narrow alleys, squares and courtyards, a typical Arab urban structure considered among the most authentic and best preserved in Sicily, though the most ancients architectonic occurences date back to the Norman period. At its summit is the Cathedral founded at the end of the XI century by San Gerlando, the first bishop after the Muslim domination and patron of the city. Having been repeatedly enlarged and restructured in the following centuries, today it is a wonderful fusion of different styles. Atop a wide staircase flanked by a massive bell tower dating back to 1470, the seventeenth-century silver urn of San Gerlando, funerary monuments of bishops and nobles, valuable paintings, frescoes, stucco and refined wooden ceilings are on display.

Adjacent to the Cathedral is the eighteenth-century Luchessian Library, which houses numerous and valuable volumes. The nearby church of Santa Maria dei Greci is so named because it originates from the Greek-Catholic rite. In the courtyard before the church you can still sense an atmosphere of Oriental mysticism. It was built on the ruins of the Temple of Athena, dating from the VI century B.C.  In a small underground passage the remains of the basement are visible, while the colonnade is incorporated into the perimeter walls of the church. The Abbey of the Holy Spirit, founded by the Chiaramonte family at the end of the thirteenth century, still dominates on what was the expansion area of the city. Inside the church the stucco art of Palermitan sculptor Giacomo Serpotta is celebrated, who lived and worked between the end of the 1600’s and the early 1700’s. The quadrangular cloister from the adjacent monastery has elegant windows and portals. Inside, the Sinatra Art Galley holds a wonderful collection of paintings from famous Sicilian painters of the 1800’s, portraying the lush nature of Sicily.

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