With its impressive and solemn churches and its splendidly preserved walls, Paestum is one of the most famous and important archaeological sites in Italy. The ruins of Paestum include the walls, four majestic and well-preserved temples, other religious buildings, the amphitheatre and the Via Sacra, in addition to other minor remains.
The Basilica, the conventional name which in actual fact indicates a temple dedicated to Hera (the main divinity of Paestum) is an arcaic building which scholars have dated to the years immediately following 550 B.C. The so-called Temple of Neptune (or Poseidon) was in fact dedicated to Hera Argiva, goddess of maternity and fertility, as shown by the large number of small statues, vases and other objects found in the votive offerings of the building.
In the sacred area between the two temples dedicated to Hera a number of small religious buildings and altars also came to light, certainly dedicated to the same divinity. Many Roman buildings have been found in the surrounding area, in particular a Patrician house and pool with, in the large open space of the Forum, remains of inns, meat market buildings, a temple dating back to the third century A.D. spas and shops.
Along the northern side of the Forum stands the so-called Italic Temple, built after 273 B.C., which was probably the Capitolium, i.e. the temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.
To the west of the area of the temples and of the Forum, runs the Via Sacra, a wide paved road on which the religious processions passed. Along the road we can find a sacred enclosure inside of which, excavated in the rock, an underground votive chapel has been found, interpreted by scholars as a religious building or a cenotaph.
Also near the Via Sacra the Temple dedicated to Athena, stands traditionally known as that of Ceres. Built around the sixth century B.C., it is one of the most prized examples of Greek architecture in Italy.
GETTING THERE By Train Paestum is within easy reach of Salerno, an hour away. Both buses and trains service the route. You can catch a southbound train, which departs Salerno with a stop at Paestum about every 2 hours. For schedules, call 089252200 in Salerno. A one-way fare is 4.200L ($2.50), and the journey takes an hour.
By Bus – The bus from Salerno leaves from Piazza Concordia 8near the rail station) about every 30 minutes. A one-way fare is Euro 6,00.
By Car – From Salerno, take S18 south.