Paestum archaeological site in Magna Grecia, Salerno (Campania) comprises a amphitheater, burial grounds, forum, National Archaeological Museum, Temple of Ceres, Temple of Hera, Temple of Neptune and remains of tombs. About ninety kilometers from Naples-Capodichino Airport, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is sandwiched between the Licosa promontory and the River Sele’s mouth.
photo by Vito F. Galgano
The temples and tombs are known for unique Greek frescoes painted as early as fourth century B.C. Though Lucanian artists painted the frescoes, influences of Greek style are evident in the works. Subject of the frescoes revolve around various themes. For instance, a chariot race, Greek funeral banquet, men playing Kottabos, mythological scenes, rites and rituals, victory and battle scenes, young men listening to music, drinking and chatting, and a woman welcoming a warrior at her home are painted on the walls of these structures. Even some frescoes feature themes used for pottery in the classical Greek period. Banquet painting style used for vases in Athens is also followed in some of the frescoes. However, the Lucanians used contrasting colors to create arresting frescos unlike Greek artists.
The Temple of Neptune is inspired by the Athenian Parthenon. A huge burial ground with scores of graves was discovered near the temple. About fifty graves are adorned with classical Greek frescos. The Temple of Ceres, dedicated to Athena, is constructed in Doric style. The Temple of Hera, also known as the Basilica, was the oldest and the biggest among all three temples. The Forum was a commercial and political center of Paestum.
The collection of National Archaeological Museum of Paestum consists of antique metopes unearthed from the area near the Sele’s mouth, dancing girls from the temples, marble statue of Hera and funerary ornaments that demonstrate evolution of funeral rituals from 6th to 5th B.C. The Roman Room traces history of Rome. The highlight of the room is more than six hundred coins of 2nd century B.C. About 150 walls of tombs painted with rare Greek frescoes are displayed in the museum. Do not miss “Tomb of the Diver” and prehistoric-proto-historic section.
The site is accessible between 9:00 am and sunset. There is an entry fee to excavations and entry. Guided tours are available. You can also buy audio guides for a better experience of the site.
Hotels in Paestum
Hotel Il Granaio dei Casabella – Paestum
Average Price: €60
Average Rating: 9.5
Hotel Sogaris – Paestum
Average Price: €45
Average Rating: 8.1
Bed and Breakfast Casale Giancesare – Paestum
Average Price: €50
Average Rating: 9.3