The first nucleus of the city is Greek. The Romans changed the name to Agrigentum. The Arab conquest of AD 829 brought the city, which had gone through the early Christian era in decadence, back to its original splendour and changed the name to "Gergent" or "Kerkent".
The little medieval church of Santa Maria dei Greci, built in the 13th century on the visible remains of a Greek temple probably dedicated to the goddess Athena, was the first cathedral of the local clergy. Beautiful in its simplicity, thanks to an underground corridor you can visit the ruins of the temple.
The arrival of Roger Hauteville's Normans changed the name again, to Girgenti. The cathedral that stands on the pinnacle of the hill and dominates the city was erected in 1099 probably on the ruins of the temple of Zeus Atabyrios by Bishop Gerland, who was to become the patron saint.
On Via Duomo, not far from the cathedral, you can see the Biblioteca Lucchesiana. Today the library houses 50,000 volumes including precious incunabula and Greek and Arab manuscripts unique in the world. In Piazza Pirandello, dedicated to the writer who was born in the Chaos district of Girgenti and who became famous for the Nobel Prize for Literature that he was awarded in 1934, next to the basilica of San Domenico and the Town Hall stands the Pirandello Theatre, similar in style to the Fenice theatre in Venice. A little farther along, on the right-hand side of Piazza Sinatra is one of the most panoramic points of the city. Here the view extends from east to west along the coast of Agrigento, from Punta Bianca to Porto Empedocle, admiring in all its magnificence and majesty the Valley of the Temples.