PaestumAncient greek city with three Doric temples Campania / Italy
Paestum, or Poseidonia, is an ancient Greek, and later Roman city. It is famous for its Greek temples, generally recognised as being the best preserved doric temples in the world. It is located on the coastal plains S. of the Amalfi coast, some 80 km S. of Naples.
Paestum is the Roman name of the city. The original Greek name was Poseidonia.
Only a fraction of the original extension of the city has been excavated, just around the ancient city centre with the temples and public buildings. The major parts of the area is privately owned and has never been examined.
Paestum and the surrounding area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Poseidonia was founded around 600 BCE, probably as a colony of Sybaris, which was a flourishing city on the Ionian Sea. The city was the northernmost Greek settlement in Italy, just 8 km from the River Sele that formed the borderline between Greek and Etruscan domination.
The city was originally located near the coastline, close to the mouth of a small stream, but there was no good, natural harbour nearby. The closest good harbours were at the mouth of the River Sele to the N. (where a Heraion, a sanctuary to Hera, has been found) and Agropolis 8 km to the S. It is likely that sailors have hauled their boats onto the beach if they haven't used the more distant anchorages north and south.
What the site lacked sea-wise it had towards the hinterland. The land was fertile, water was abundant and important inland trade routes connected the city to the Greeks cities to the south and to the Etruscan cities to the north. The city grew on a combination of agriculture and trade.Map of Paestum with indications of the excavated areas
The outline of the city was determined from the beginning. The city sits on an elevated shelf of travertine that defines the somewhat irregular perimeter of the town, and defensive walls were erected around the entire area. These walls stretch for about 5 km with four major gates coinciding with the cardinal directions and several towers.Next: Poseidonia - The Greek City
This article has been split into 8 separate sections. Use the menu below to jump to another section.
- Poseidonia - The Greek City
- The Lucanian Conquest
- Paestum - The Roman Colony
- Decline and Disappearance
- Rediscovery of the City
- Literature and links
- Archaeological Museum
- City Walls
- Doric Column - A votive column, part of a lost sanctuary, c. 550 BCE
- Gymnasium - Palestra with pool with labyrinth
- Hellenistic Pool
- Piazzale Anfiteatro
- Porta della Giustizia
- Private Houses
- Sacred Pool of Hera
- Temple of Athena - Archaic Doric Temple, c. 500 BCE
- Temple of Hera I - Archaic Doric temple, c. 550 BCE
- Temple of Hera II - Archaic Doric temple, c. 470-460 BCE
- Temple of the Forum
- Underground Shrine - An enigmatic sanctuary, possibly a heroon
- Via Sacra
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