Place Detail

Paestum

Paestum is the classical Roman name of a major Graeco-Roman city in the Campania region of Italy. It is located in the north of Cilento, near the coast about 85 km South East of Naples in the province of Salerno, and belongs to the city hall of Capaccio. Paestum was founded around the end of the 7th century BC by colonists from the Greek city of Sybaris, and originally known as Poseidonia.

The main features of the site today are the standing remains of three major temples in Doric style, dating from the first half of the 6th century BC. These were dedicated to Hera and Athena, although they have traditionally been identified as a basilica and temples of Neptune and Ceres, owing to 18th-century mis-attribution.

The temple of Hera, built around 550 BC by Greek colonists, is the oldest surviving temple in Paestum. Eighteenth-century archaeologists named it "The Basilica" because they mistakenly believed it to be a Roman building. A basilica in Roman times was a civil building, not a religious one.

Inscriptions revealed that the goddess worshiped here was Hera. Later, an altar was unearthed in front of the temple, in the open-air site usual for a Greek altar; the faithful could attend rites and sacrifices without entering the cella.