Founded in the Seventh century B.C. by a group of Greek colonists from Sibari as “Poseidonia”, from Poseidon (Neptune), god of the sea, to whom it was dedicated, between 400 and 273 B.C. it was conquered by the “Lucani”, a native Italian people and later revived under Roman rule when it was named Paestum. Malaria led the primitive colonists to move the inhabited centre to the banks of another river, the Salso. The maritime and fluvial port of the city grew up from the primitive settlement on the River Sele, hosting the temple of Hera Argiva which soon became one of the largest and most venerated sanctuaries in ancient Italy.
The fall of the Roman Empire coincided with the end of the city. In fact, toward 500 A.D., recurrent bouts of Malaria and Saracen raids resulted in its gradually being abandoned by its inhabitants. The rediscovery of Paestum dates back to 1762, following the construction of a modern road which still runs through it today.
Paestum still retains several grandiose Doric temples including the so-called “Basilica”, the temple of “Neptune” (considered one of the most beautiful Doric temples in the world) and the temple of “Ceres”. Other highlights include the magnificent “Tomba del tuffatore” (Tomb of the Diver), an extremely rare example of a frescoed Greek tomb, housed in the Archaeological Museum.
Archaeological Museum, via Magna Grecia
Open from 8.30am-6.45pm. Closed on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month
The Excavations, via Magna Grecia
Open from 8.45am until one hour before sundown
Tickets: €10 (Museum + Excavations); €11 (Museum + Excavations + Velia Archaeological Park); €7 (Museum); €6 Excavation
Free admission for people under the age of 18 and over the age of 65
Where is it?