Fortifications and city-gates

Ardus inde Acragas ostentat maxima longe. Moenia,magnanimum quondum generator equorum…

Virgil – Eneid, book III

The circuit of the fortification walls of ancient Akragas was of considerable extension (12 km approx.). It had a quadrangular perimeter and was partly cut into the rock and partly entirely built with masonry. It dates back to the sixth century B.C.

This defensive system can rightly be defined as an human enhancement to a natural system that it could play alone the role of protection of the city that was located between the defensive stronghold represented by the two hills of Girgenti and the Rupe Atenea to the North and the hill of the temples to the south. The latter was not as high and steep as the others, but, nevertheless, played an important role of defense and control of the coast. The eastern and western sides of this hypothetical quadrilateral defined by the valleys of the Akragas and Ipsas rivers were defended by largely built walls.

Along the circuit of the fortifications there were nine gates placed always in correspondence of a valley or a slight natural depression. The gates were of the sceo type with a bastion tower that was projecting on the right and with a powerful oblique re-entry. Of great interest at Gate I, the pincer bulwark: a great defensive work consisting of two wall sections converging towrds a tower: the largest of which is 55 meters long and 5 meters thick. The base of the tower (8.30 by 6.80 m) is preserved.

Text © Copyright Corrado Capraro