Agropoli is a popular tourist resort on the Cilento coast, set on the southern part of the Gulf of Salerno, in the Plain of the Sele river, and represents the western gate to the National Park of Cilento-Vallo di Diano. Although the place name ("Akropolis" meaning "city placed at the top) is documented only from the Byzantine domination, the promontory of the city was inhabited since the Neolithic Age; archaeological finds, unearthed on the south-east side of the Aragonese castle, reveal stable settlements from the Bronze Age. Starting from the IV century BC Agropoli was subjected both to the nearby Paestum and the Lucanians, who settled there self-sufficient farms. During the Roman period, a seaside village, called Ercula, was founded on the coast of San Marco, in order to replace the nearby port of Paestum that was gradually covering with sand.
The inhabitants of the small coastal town were forced to find refuge on the promontory, during the V century, due to the frequent barbarian raids. The Byzantines fortified this place, calling it Acropolis; soon after it was seat of a bishop's palace. In 882 the city was conquered by the Saracens who built there a "ribàt" (stronghold), from where they plunged the nearby villages as far as the defensive walls of Salerno. The Saracens were defeated in 915 and Agropoli returned under the control of the bishops (who has established their headquarters in Capaccio) until the XV century. In 1412 Pope Gregory II gave the fiefs of Agropoli and Castellabate to the King Ladislao of Durazzo; in 1443 King Alfonso of Aragon gave these fiefs to Giovanni Sanseverino, count of Marsico and baron of Cilento. From 1552 (when the Severino family was forced to leave the estate), the town was ruled by different families, until it fell into the hands of the Sanfelice family (1660), dukes of Laureana, whose jurisdiction ended in 1804, the year of the abolition of feudalism.
Sites of interest:
- the remains of a rustic Roman villa, dating back to the Republica period, in Tresino quarter;
- the remains of a male tomb, dating back to the IV century BC, in Madonna del Carmine quarter;
- the remains of a small necropolis (about 10 tombs) of the Iv century BC, in Muoio quarter;
- a painted tomb, dating back to 350 BC, discovered in Contrada Vecchia quarter and now displayed in the National Arcaheological Museum of Paestum;
- two tombs (IV century BC) discovered in Contrada Cupa quarter;
- the local Antiquarium, where it is possible to admire many interesting finds, from the Arcaic period to the Medieval one;
- the Castle, of Byzantine origins, although it now appears after the Angevin-Aragonese additional works. It has a triangular shape with three circula towers, with a spectacular view on the Paestum plain. In 1100 a contact between the bishops of Capaccio and the Holy Trinity Abbey of Cava de' Tirreni was established in this castle. Luisa Sanfelice, one of the heroine of the Neapolitan revolution, stayed in this castle for a short period.
- the picturesque historical town center, accessible through a flight of steps and a very well-preserved XVII century gate, dominated by coat-of-arms of Delli Monti-Sanfelice family. The defensive walls are still visible.
- the coastal towers of San Marco and San Francesco;
- the Church of the Saints Pietro and Paolo, already mentioned in a Gragorio Magno's letter dating back to 593; it has one nave.
- the Church of Madonna di Costantinopoli, documented since 1583; according to tradition, the cult started after the discovery of a painting of the Madonna by local fishermen;
- the small Church of Santa Maria della Pietà;
- the Chapel of Annunciazione, owned by the Ruotolo family;
- the Church of Madonna delle Grazie;
- the Church of Madonna del Carmine;
- the Convent of San Francesco, with a panoramic view, built in 1230 after a visit of San Francis who, according to tradition, spoke to the fishes in 1222;
- Trantova Bay;
- St. Francis Bay.