Paestum is a truly enchanting and atmospheric place, that lies in the province of Salerno, the part of the region of Campania. It is situated on the Tyrrhenian coast and is notable for the ruins of the ancient city where three Greek temples stand in the middle of the countryside.
Paestum is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The town of Poseidonia - later called Paestum was built by Greek colonists from Sybaris in around 600BC. In 410BC the town was conquered by the Lucanians, a native Italian people, then in 273BC the Romans took over, changed the name to Paestum and began their own building programme. As the Roman Empire collapsed, Paestum crumbled and was pretty much forgotten. Things changed with the eighteenth-century rediscovery of the temples by road-builders .

Nowadays most of the vanished city of Poseidonia-Paestum is hidden under agricultural land.The archaeological area at Paestum covers the heart of the ancient city. The most dramatic sights, which led to the site's rediscovery, are the three Doric temples. Roofless, but still standing, these are among the greatest archaeological monuments in Italy. These were dedicated to Hera , Athena , and Poseidone. The two temples of Hera are right next to each other, while the Temple of Athena is on the other side of the town center.

The first temple of Hera, the so-called Basilica, is the oldest of the three large buildings. It belongs to the first generation of large stone temples and was begun in about 560 BC.It is the only Greek temple dating to a period of crucial importance to the formation of Greek architecture to have been preserved in such good condition.
The second Temple of Hera was built around 460–450 BC, just north of the first Hera Temple. It was once mistakenly thought to be dedicated to Poseidon .

The Temple has the remains of two altars, one large and one smaller. The smaller one is a Roman addition, built when a road leading to a Roman forum was cut through the larger one. It also is possible that the temple originally was dedicated to both Hera and Poseidon; some offertory statues found around the larger altar are thought to demonstrate this identification.

On the highest point of the town, some way from the Hera Temples and north of the center of the ancient settlement, is the Temple of Athena . It was built around 500 BC. Three medieval Christian tombs in the floor show that the temple was at one time used as a Christian church.

In the central part of the complex is the Roman Forum ,on the north side ofwhich is a small Roman temple, dated to 200 BC. It was dedicated to the Capitoline Triad , Juno , Jupiter and Minerva .
To the north-east of the forum is the amphitheater .This is of normal Roman pattern, although much smaller than later examples.

Paestum also is renowned for its painted tombs, mainly belonging to the period of Lucanian rule, while only one of them dates to the Greek period. However, this is the Tomb of the Diver, which is the most famous. It is named after the enigmatic scene, depicted on the underside of the covering slab, of a young man diving into a stream of water. It dates to the first half of the fifth century BC (about 470 BC), the Golden Age of the Greek town.
The ancient city walls, constructed with massive stone blocks, encircle a large area of countryside, much of it unexcavated.

Just opposite the archaeological site is the museum.It houses sections of pediment, decoration and sculptures from the archaeological area and from other nearby sites, mostly dating to the Greek era and some showing a clear relationship with Etruscan artworks from central Italy. The museum also contains paintings and grave goods from tombs in and around Paestum.

Paestum can be visited as a day-trip from Naples, Salerno, Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast, but holidaymakers on a tour of Italy may find it a good overnight stay on the journey south.The temples are illuminated in the dark,so you can walk along the streets,enjoy blooming roses and feel the magical atmosphere of the past.

You'll find Paestum a really special and memorable experience.


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