A true open-air museum in southern Italy, offering an idea of life in Magna Graecia.

Paestum: a must-see for history and archaeology lovers

Paestum is an ancient city located in the Sele Valley, which is home to one of the most important archaeological sites in Italy. The city was founded in the Sele Valley in 600 BC - a few years after Agropoli - by the Greeks of Sybaris, the most important Greek city in Calabria, and was named Poseidonia, after the Greek name of the sea god Poseidon. In the 4th century BC, Poseidonia came under the rule of the Lucanians, who changed the name of the city to Paiston. In 273 BC, it acquired the name Paestum following the Roman conquest of the city walls. In the 9th century AD, due to numerous attacks by the Saracens and the unhealthy climate, it declined and was abandoned. It was rediscovered in the 18th century thanks to the construction of new roads in 1748. Excavations brought to light the remains of the ancient city, which had been preserved under the mud of the marshy areas: public and religious buildings, roads, and fortified walls are still visible, and a museum preserves all the archaeological finds, including frescoes, tomb gold, terracotta vases, and sculptures.

The heart of the archaeological area of Paestum is the three majestic temples: the Temple of Hera (mid-6th century BC), the Temple of Neptune (5th century BC), the largest and best preserved temple in Paestum, and the Temple of Ceres (presumably datable between the other two). The Temple of Neptune (even though it is now known that it was dedicated to Hera and not to Poseidon, it continues to be called so in reference to tradition) dates back to the middle of the 5th century BC and is the most recent, best preserved, and most imposing of the three temples. It is a peripteral temple that, despite some stylistic and structural anomalies (such as the number of fourteen columns on the long sides), fully falls within the classical Doric architecture. The Temple of Athena (erroneously known as the Temple of Ceres) is the second in chronological order (late 6th century) and the smallest of the three temples. It is a Doric peripteral temple with six Ionic columns. The temple was presumably the heart of a small sanctuary, of which only a few remains have been preserved, including the altar with the sacrificial pit. The Ionic capitals of the temple are the only monumental examples of archaic age that have been found in Magna Graecia. The oldest of the three temples of Paestum was dedicated to the Greek goddess of fertility Hera. The city walls have four gates and run around the archaeological area for almost 5 km. They were built by the Greeks but were only later fortified by the Lucanians and Romans. Many Lucanian tombs have been found near the city: the most famous is the Tomb of the Diver (c. 480 BC). The scene represented on the roof slab symbolizes a transition that is almost harmonious from life to death. The temples of Paestum are a major tourist attraction. Even the famous German poet Goethe visited them in March 1787, only thirty years after their discovery, and was deeply impressed.

Paestum: what to do and what to see

Paestum is a town in southern Italy that is located in the province of Salerno. It is a popular tourist destination, known for its archaeological site, which is one of the most important in Europe. The archaeological site of Paestum is home to three Doric temples, which were built in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The temples are dedicated to the Greek gods Poseidon, Hera, and Athena. They are remarkably well-preserved, and they provide a glimpse into the ancient Greek world. In addition to the temples, the archaeological site also includes the remains of a city wall, an agora, and a theater. The site is open to the public from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm every day.

Paestum is also home to a number of other attractions, including beaches, a museum, and a mozzarella factory. The beaches are long and sandy, and they are a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The museum houses a collection of archaeological finds from the area, including pottery, jewelry, and sculptures. And the mozzarella factory offers tours and tastings of the famous Campania buffalo mozzarella. Paestum is a charming town with a rich history and culture. It is a great destination for a day trip or a longer vacation.

Archaeological area of Velia:

How to reach Paestum

Paestum is located south of Salerno along the Tyrrhenian coast, about 40 km from Salerno and about 80 km from Naples.
Here are the main ways to reach Paestum:
By car: If you are driving, you can take the A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway. Take the Battipaglia exit and follow the signs for the SS18 Tirrena Inferiore state road in the direction of Agropoli-Sud/Paestum.
By train: Paestum is served by the Naples-Reggio Calabria railway line. You can take a train from Naples Central or from other stations along the railway line. Once you arrive at Paestum station, you can reach the archaeological site on foot in a few minutes.
By plane:
the nearest airport to Paestum is Naples International Airport. From the airport, you can take a direct train to Paestum or reach Napoli Centrale station and from there take a train to Paestum. It is best to rent a car when you arrive in Naples, especially in the low season. This is because there are not many public transportation options available to visit the Cilento areas and get around easily.

Distance from the beaches: 3,5 km
Distance from Salerno: 40 km, about 48 minutes by car
Train station: Paestum, 0 km

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