A passion for Paestum
In Cilento, experiencing the magic of Magna Grecia
The gateway to the National Park of Cilento, Paestum is a fascinating melting pot bubbling with antiquities, rare natural beauty, and the unmistakable flavors of the Mediterranean. It is no surprise if the Grand Tour often began right here, where Archeology is written with a capital 'A', and testifies to the passage of not one, not two, but three ancient civilizations in the area: the Greeks, Lucans and Romans.
The temples between the mountains and the sea
Travelling North from Eboli, you'll quickly reach the fertile Paestum Plain, traversed by the River Sele. At this point, the Amalfi Coast is only a few minutes away. On one side there's the sea, on the other the Alburni mountains and, in the center, 120 hectares of archeological park enclosed within a 5km long perimeter wall, which was built to protect the city by its first inhabitants.
Paestum, originally known as "Poseidonia", was founded between the 7th and 6th century B.C. by the Ancient Greek colony of Sibari. Some centuries later, the town was taken over by the Lucans, an indigenous population subsequently ousted by the Ancient Romans. The Ancient Romans enlarged the city, constructing thermal baths, a forum, and an amphitheater, but were so struck by the beauty of the city's sacred area that they decided to leave it exactly as they had found it.
An emotion which has lasted 2700 years
To this very day, Paestum continues to amaze visitors with its perfectly conserved temples, the massive Doric columns of which stand out against the deep blue sky
Two temples tend to steal the show: the temple dedicated to Hera, which the first 18th century scholars erroneously identified as a "Basilica", and the temple dedicated to Neptune, widely considered the finest surviving example of Doric architecture in the world. Taking pride of place, in the center of the archeological park, are the remains of the Roman forum built on the site of the Greek agora.
Mad about Magna Grecia
No trip to Paestum can be considered complete without having visited the National Archeological Museum, brimful with precious artifacts, from statues to ornate funereal garb. Perhaps the most important exhibit is the Diver's Tomb, a grave made of five painted slabs of limestone, including one which depicts a young man diving into the sea: a compelling example of Hellenic painting which has survived intact for well over two thousand years.
Paestum Archeological Park and National Museum
via Magna Grecia, 919
tel: +39 0828 811023
Opening hours: from 9.00 to an hour before sunset
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