Paestum: Ancient Greek City in Italy

While Italy is home to stunning Roman ruins, temples, and structures, not many know about the Greek ruins in the ancient city of Paestum. The city is located in the region of Magna Graecia a name which the Romans gave the Greek-speaking part of Italy. Mainly, it is famous for its 3 Greek temples, statues, sculptures, and other pottery in it. Moreover, the city, its structural components, and some of the artworks are in a near-perfect condition. This makes the city a highly popular site for history lovers and tourists alike. Today, Paestum is open to the public and there is a museum at the site exhibiting hundreds of years old items from excavations.

Paestum temple

The name of the city Paestum comes from the Greek deity of the seas, Poseidon. Originally, the Greek settlers called it Poseidonia to make it clear to whom they dedicated to the city. However, ironically, the three standing temples on the site are not for Poseidon.


While one temple is the Temple of Hera, the other two are for Athena. Furthermore, this is really interesting since, in Greek mythology, Poseidon and Athena did not quite like each other and constantly were in conflict. In summary, this shows that the settlers followed paganistic beliefs and worshipped other Greek deities alongside Poseidon.

Paestum columns

Historians believe that the Greeks founded Paestum around 600 BCE which flourished quickly. However, they lost the city 200 years later to the Lucanians. Similarly, the Lucanian rule was short as well since the Romans seized the ancient city from them in 273 BCE. From that point on, the Romans controlled Paestum but abandoned it during the Middle Ages.

Paestum temple interior

Although abandoned, Paestum managed to keep some of its original structures alive and well. The three temples are the best proof of this fact. The temples are classic Greek temples with tall columns and multiple statues and inscriptions on the temple exterior and interior. Moreover, the temples had open-air altars so that the followers could perform rituals and worship easily.

Paestum grounds
Paestum temples from above
Paestum sculpture
Paestum statue
Paestum pot
horse statue in the city
temple columns close up
temple columns in the city
Mario Barracco