Paestum is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world as well as one of the most beautiful cities of Magna Graecia. Visiting its archaeological area means taking a real journey through history.
Despite being located on the edge of the Sele plain, Paestum can be considered the gateway to Cilento, one of the most beautiful territories in Campania and beyond. Founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC, it was at the center of numerous historical events. The archaeological area, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is of great importance both for its cultural value and for the conservation of its assets. Even Friedrich Nietzsche was fascinated by it to the point of stating: “It is as if a god, here, had built his house with enormous blocks of stone“.
What strikes the thousands of tourists from all over the world most is the vision of its three imposing Doric temples, which miraculously reached us in excellent condition. The Temple of Hera, better known as the Basilica, dates back to 550 – 450 BC. and the oldest of the three. Its peculiarity lies in the union of archaic and classical features.
The Temple of Neptune, also known as Poseidon, dates back to the mid-5th century BC. and it is the largest. It presents itself as a colossal travertine construction and is considered the most perfect example of Doric Templar architecture in Italy and Greece. The Temple of Ceres, actually dedicated to the goddess Athena, dates back to 500 BC. and is located on the highest point of the city. Built in local limestone, it has characteristics that make it one of the most interesting temples of Greek architecture.
Along the Via Sacra you can also admire: the Forum, one of the oldest and most interesting of the Roman era, built shortly after 273 BC; and the Amphitheater, founded in the Caesarian era, which constitutes one of the oldest examples of this type of building.
The National Archaeological Museum of Paestum is also worth a visit, which collects the numerous finds found in the archaeological area. Organized into sections, it traces the history of the area from prehistory to the foundation of the Latin colony. An important section is made up of the set of architectural and sculptural decorations coming from the excavations of the Heraion del Sele. But the museum’s highlight is the so-called Tomb of the Diver, one of the highest examples of the funerary art of Magna Graecia.