Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, ordered a tower built to protect the territory's reserves of harvested grain in the fifteenth century. The tower was later converted to a prison and is now a social and cultural center.
Trade increased in the area after the completion of the harbor wall in 1763. The comune became autonomous in 1853. Its early names were Marina di Girgenti and, after the artificial harbor was built, Molo di Girgenti. The town took its present name in 1863, after the Agrigentine philosopher Empedocles.
In 2003, the town changed its official denomination to Porto Empedocle Vigata, after the name of the fictional town where the popular novels by Andrea Camilleri, famous Italian writer and native of Porto Empedocle, about detective Inspector Montalbano are placed. However, the decision was revoked in 2009.
The main church is Parrocchia Maria SS.del Buon Consiglio, which is located in the center of the town. The marl Scala dei Turchi is located nearby, on the coast of Realmonte.