Paestum, Italy

Paestum
The Temple of Neptune at Paestum, dating from 450 BC and beautifully preserved. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Paestum is an ancient Greco-Roman city in the Campania region of southern Italy (40 km south of Salerno), not far from sandy beaches in a region known for its mozzarella di bufula. Settled by Greek colonists in the 6th century BC, Paestum was later occupied by Lucanians, Romans and Christians. Malarial swamps led to the abandonment of the city in the 9th century AD, but also helped preserve the ancient city's finest artifacts. Today, Paestum boasts three well-preserved Doric Greek temples, ruins of ancient houses and a museum of Greek artifacts. As an extra bonus, the site is off the beaten tourist path and is often deserted. Paestum makes an excellent alternative (or complement) in southern Italy to the later, and more crowded, Roman ruins at Pompeii.


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Paestum Archaeological Site
The Paestum Archaeological Site in southern Italy is home to three Doric Greek temples - the Temple of Neptune, Temple of Hera and Temple of Ceres - and many other ancient ruins.
Byzantine Church
Paestum's Basilica Paleocristiana is an early Christian cathedral dating from the 5th century. It has recently been restored to its original form, which uses materials from the ancient city.
Archaeological Museum
Located next to the Greek temples, this excellent museum displays Greek and Roman artifacts from the Paestum area. Its most famous exhibits are rare Greek tomb frescoes from the 5th and 4th centuries BC.