Paestum is a city in the province of Salerno, whose birth dates back to Magna Grecia , of which the tangible signs still remain in the archaeological area . Originally the name was Poseidonia, in honor of Poseidon, God of the sea, to whom the city was dedicated. Moreover, it is known that the inhabitants of Paestum were very devoted also to Hera and Athena.
The city takes its current name in the period of the Roman Empire, in about 273. The end of the Roman Empire determined the end of the city because, due to an epidemic, all the remaining citizens were forced to leave the territory. The ancient city was discovered in 1762, when the modern road that was still practicable was built.
The archaeological park of Paestum
The archaeological park of Paestum is the biggest attraction in the area. It boasts ancient and unique historical and artistic testimonies. A wide expanse of green that includes three ancient temples, intact and imposing throughout the park and predominant on the road. A walk through history that allows you to fully experience the journey of time. The park is presented in its ancient structure, with the city walls and its buildings, the testimony of the transit of the Romans and the intact walls of the houses now worn by time. The visit to the museum is a must to fully understand the curiosities of this ancient and marvelous city, even inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list.
The park is open every day from 8:30 to 19:30, it is advisable to visit it in the sunlight and spend a nice day there . The city of Paestum is located on the coast and the sea is truly wonderful. You can plan a morning at the beach, followed by a visit to the park in the early afternoon. Regardless of the programs, it is an unmissable stop for anyone visiting the Campania region.
Il Museo di Paestum
In the museum of Paestum there is a famous artefact of Greek funeral art dating back to the end of 400 A.C. received in the archaeological area of Paestum. The image on the roof of the tomb is a particular image, which has become a symbol of the archaeological park. The iconography represents a naked man who takes a dip in the ocean, a metaphor of transit from life to death.
Paestum is a small and very characteristic little town, full of restaurants and bars. The food in the Cilento area is of excellent quality, based on the Mediterranean diet. The traditional flavors of these areas are inimitable, considered part of the UNESCO world heritage.
The Paestum Archaeological Excavations
Paestum is home to three magnificent Doric temples, which are thought to be dedicated to the city of the same name Poseidon (known to the Romans as Neptune), Hera and Ceres . The temples of Neptune and Hera are located next to each other in the southern part of the site, while the smaller one, the temple of Cerere, is at the northern end.
The Paestum temples
The Temple of Hera is the oldest of the three temples, built around 550 BC. It is sometimes called the Basilica, on the basis of a mistake by previous archaeologists who thought it was a Roman public building, in the sense that the Roman term indicates: a place used as a court and the assemblies that held citizens.
The Temple of Neptune is considered to be the most perfect example of Templar Doric architecture in Italy and Greece . The attribution to Neptune is due to the scholars of the eighteenth century who believed the building built in honor of the god Poseidon-Neptune that gives the city its name. Instead, recent studies attribute it to Apollo, in his capacity as a doctor.
The Temple of Cerere (or Atena) built about fifty years before the Temple of Neptune and 50 years later that of Hera has some particularities that distinguishes it from the other two temples and rendon or one of the most interesting of Greek architecture. The high pediment and the Doric frieze composed of large limestone blocks make this temple unique.
The central part of the site is made up of the Roman Forum, with ample foundations of various public and private buildings. In the north-west of the forum there is a small Roman amphitheater, of which only the southern half is visible.