Photo of Paestum

Visit Paestum

Paestum was an important Greek city from the 6th century BC, then later a Roman city from the 3rd century BC, to the south-east of Naples. The site is best known for its three ancient temples and will be one of the highlights of your visit to the Campania region. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

This area was known as Magna Graecia and was the area of Sicily and southern Italy that was occupied as a Greek colony. In Ancient Greek times Paestum was called Poseidonia after Poseidon, Greek god of the sea.

Explore Paestum

Italy This Way review: Paestum is one of the the most interesting and most visited tourist attractions in Campania.

Paestum is situated on the edge of the town of Capaccio-Paestum. The site was lost in forest and malarial swamps from the 9th century to the 18th century when it was rediscovered. Sadly at this time the temples were greatly damaged, with the stones used for local road building projects.

Athena Temple at Paestum

Paestum has since been enhanced through the restoration works that have been carried out since the 1930's, with the participation of both Italian and foreign experts.

There are three temples at Paestum, all of the Doric order dating from 550 to 450 BC. There is also an ampitheatre and city walls which are largely intact and paved roads and the remains of other buildings are also at the site.

The first Temple of Hera is also known as the 'Basilica' because it was originally and mistakenly thought to be a Roman building.

The first Temple of Hera is the oldest temple at Paestum. It is 18 columns in length and 9 in width and dates from around 550 BC. The first Temple of Hera is one of the most famous and best preserved Doric temples in Magna Graecia.

The temple was dedicated to the goddess Hera, goddess of marriage, family and childbirth, and in the west wall of the "shrine" there was a sanctuary where the statue of the deity was located.

The number of columns on the longest side is twice that present on the small side, the same proportions used in the Parthenon in Athens, the largest Doric temple of antiquity.

The second Temple of Hera, also known as the Temple of Poseidon, or the Temple of Neptune dates to 460-450 BC. It is situated next to the first Temple.

The Temple of Poseidon was defined by F. Krauss (a scholar of the temples of Paestum) as a building of almost perfect form and “harmony” and the best among all the temples of the Magna Graecia region. The temple is 59 meters long and 24 meters wide, with a height of about 9 meters.

 
Advertisement
 

The architect of the temple has been described as "one of the greatest geniuses in history" and the second Temple of Hera is a wonderful example of Greek influence in the Mediterranean area, which became a kind of "reference model" for other temples of Magna Graecia.

On the other side of the ancient town is the Temple of Athena which was built about 500 BC. The architecture of this one is mostly Doric, like the Temples of Hera, but also has some Ionic details. It also has Medieval Christian tombs in its floor.

Also to be seen at Paestum are the city walls and the Via Sacra. The perimeter walls of the ancient city were nearly 4000 meters long and incorporated four gates.

The whole town is crossed by the famous "Via Sacra" famously referred to by Horace: "Ibam forte Via Sacra"( “Along the Sacred Road I strolled one day”, Horace, “Sermones”, I, 9, and near which various civil and religious structures were once situated.

The National Archaeological Museum at Paestum is of great interest. It is one of the largest museums of its type in the world. It is located in the archaeological area and brings together objects found in the city, in the necropolis and in the sanctuary of Hera.

Among the most significant works is the "Tomb of the Diver", dating back to 480 BC and of extraordinary archaeological importance being one of the few examples of archaic Greek painting.

Near the museum is the interesting Church of the Annunciation, a Christian or proto-Romanesque basilica.

National Archaeological Museumin  Paestum

See Paestum history for the detailed history of Paestum.

Attractions nearby

Next to Paestum and Capaccio-Paestum is the Cilento coast and to the south it is covered in dense woods of pine and chestnut.

Capaccio today is an important town in Campania, both for the archaeological site of Paestum and for the seaside attractions and beaches of the Cilento coast. Combined these make the coast near Paestum an interesting place for a summer holiday, with the combination of beach activities and the chance to enjoy the cultural climate.

Another archaeological site nearby is the ancient city of Elea.

Of course the major attraction is the Amalfi coast and all the beautiful towns along it. The Amalfi coast is one of the top destinations in Italy.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Campania guide, and the Campania guide.

See also Find Paestum hotels

Photos of Paestum

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • assembly-space
  • museum
  • ruins
  • ruins2
  • ruins3
  • temple-athena
  • temple-athena2
  • temple-athena3
  • temple-hera-i
  • temple-hera-ii
  • temple-hera-ii2
  • temples-hera
  • temples-hera2
  • via-sacra

Map of Paestum and places to visit

 
Advertisement
 

Paestum places to visit

Elea

Elea

Elea is an ancient 2600 year old city, now an archaeological site

Elea guide
Salerno

Salerno

Salerno is a busy town with a cathedral near the Amalfi coast in southern Campania

Salerno guide
Amalfi coast

Amalfi coast

The Amalfi Coast has one of the most lovely coasts in Europe

Amalfi coast guide
Atrani

Atrani

Atrani is a pretty village next to Amalfi in the heart of the Amalfi coast

Atrani guide
Amalfi

Amalfi

Amalfi is one of the principal scenic villages in the heart of the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi guide
Amalfi cathedral

Amalfi cathedral

Amalfi cathedral has ancient origins, and elements of baroque, renaissance and Arab-Norman architecture

Amalfi cathedral guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Campania

 
Advertisement