Paestum: Greek temples in Italy and more
If you are on vacation on the Amalfi Coast or in other places of Campania Region, you can’t miss a drive to Paestum. Why? Paestum is the perfect place to spend a stress free day, made of fun and culture. Here you will sunbathe on a wide beach, dive in the beautiful Mediterranean sea and enjoy your lunch in the luxurious Pinewood, set between the beach and the road.
A not-to-be-missed sight is the archeological site of Paestum, with its huge three Greek temples, better preserved than many others you can visit in Greece. Here you will live the magic atmosphere of the ancient world and grasp all the charm of its magic rituals.
Wear light clothing, then, bring a sun hat and some water (the weather can be extremely hot there) and come with us to discover the treasures of this wonderful site.
The archeological site of Paestum
Paestum is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1998. Paestum is indeed the Roman name of Poseidonia, city founded by Greek colonists about 600 BC, in honor of Poseidon, god of the sea. It was turned into a Roman property only in 273 BC.
The excavated area is quite extended. Inside the city wall and the watchtowers, a large part of which are still there, you will visit many remains: the forum area, the swimming pool, the amphitheatre and many other structures.
Let’s go to see the three most famous sights of these ruins up close, indeed: let’s talk about the Greek temples still visible here.
Temple of Ceres
Set in the north of the site, it was thought to be dedicated to the Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility Ceres but actually it was built to honor the Greek goddess of wisdom and war Athena in 500 BC. It preserves the internal columns in Ionic style instead of Doric style which was prevalent in that period and proves this change in art styles.
Temple of Neptune (or Poseidon)
It is considered the most perfect sample of Doric temple, both in Italy and Greece and one of the best preserved, with almost any constituent part survived and many original columns, carved in limestone, still in place. It is thought to celebrate the god Poseidon-Neptune, that gave the city its name.
Temple of Hera
It is the oldest temple in Paestum. At the beginning considered as a ‘Basilica’, used for political life, it is today considered as a temple dedicated to Hera, the goddess worshipped by men as a warrior, by women as goddess of birth. The altar has been preserved and it is set in front of the temple: in ancient times people used to practice their religion outside the temple and not inside, as it happens today in a modern place of worship.
The archeological Museum
Near the site, the archeological Museum is worthy of a visit. It contains many ancient Greek objects found in the near necropolis. The masterpiece is certainly the fresco of the so-called ‘Tomb of the Diver’, the only example of Greek painting art in Italy. The picture is a metaphor of the stark passage from life to death: the diver is the dead man who is leaving the comforts of life on earth for the unknown.
Just a last tip: before to leave Paestum, don’t forget to taste buffalo mozzarella! This is a local delicious fresh cheese labeled with DOP mark, which in this area of Italy reaches its highest expression: once you have tried it, you can’t get enough!