The ancient Greek city of Poseidonia was founded in 600 BC, only to be renamed Paestum after being conquered by the Romans in 273 BC. The glorious temples that still stand here—the Temple of Hera (or Basilica), Temple of Neptune, and Temple of Athena (or Cerere)—offer a glimpse into Italy’s Greco-Roman roots, as do other highlights like the Roman amphitheater and the excellent archaeological museum, home to the famous fresco from the Tomb of the Diver.
Paestum is among the most impressive and significant archaeological sites in Italy, so be sure to visit this UNESCO-listed gem with an archaeological guide to best appreciate the historical and architectural context of these magnificent ruins. Many Paestum tours and shore excursions from Salerno also include a turn along the Amalfi Coast or a jaunt to Pompeii, the other blockbuster archaeological site in the region of Campania. Foodies can pair a visit to Paestum with a stop at a nearby mozzarella farm for a demonstration and tasting of this local delicacy.
Things to know before you go
- The Paestum archaeological site is on uneven terrain, so choose sturdy shoes and wear a hat and sunscreen when touring.
- The Temple of Hera and museum are accessible to wheelchairs.
- Visitors are not allowed to eat or drink inside the site.
- Large bags and backpacks must be checked at the entrance.
- A visit to these striking temples is a must for archaeology enthusiasts, and photographers will also enjoy capturing their timeless elegance.
How to get there
The Paestum Archaeological Park can be reached from Naples by train or bus. To combine your visit to the ruins with other area attractions, join a guided tour that includes transportation.
When to get there
The ruins can get uncomfortably hot under the Mediterranean sun in summer, so visit first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon.
Highlights of Paestum
The ruins at Paestum were rediscovered in the 1760s, but not fully excavated until almost two centuries later. The most important monuments unearthed were the 6th-century-BC Temple of Athena (Tempio di Cerere), originally dedicated to Athena and used as a church in the Middle Ages; the Temple of Neptune (Tempio di Nettuno), dating from about 450 BC and the largest and best-preserved of the three temples; and the Temple of Hera (Basilica), an extraordinary sight spanning nine columns across and 18 deep, and the oldest of Paestum’s monuments. In addition, ruins of the later Roman homes and amphitheater can be seen, with mosaic decorations and floor plans still intact.
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