Called by the Greeks Poseidonia, from the Italics Paistom e Paitos, by Romans Paestum. Located in the easternmost part of the gulf of Salerno (ant. Gulf Poseidoniate) to 10 Km from the mouth of the river Sele (ant. Silaros), in the territory of Lucania and at the northern border of the region that in the century. IV BC it was called Magna Graecia, it was one of the richest and most flourishing Greek colonies in southern Italy along the western coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Founded by the Greeks around the 600 BC., was initially called Poseidonia, from Poseidon, or Neptune, god of the sea, to whom the city had been dedicated. Between the 400 and the 273 ahead it was occupied by the Italic population of the Lucan.
In 273 it became a Roman colony with the name of Paestum. But there is no doubt that the foundation of the city was preceded by the installation of a commercial farm on the left bank and near the mouth of the river Silaros and that the malarial conditions of the soil then induced the primitive settlers to move the inhabited center towards the east, on a slightly raised limestone bank on the plain and on the coast, along the course of another minor river (Salso or Capofiume river).
From the primitive layout on the Silaros, the sea and river port of the city developed and near it the Temple of Era Argiva, which soon became one of the largest and most revered sanctuaries in ancient Italy: about 50 stadiums separated the city from the Heraion and its emporium on the river.
The end of the Roman Empire roughly coincided with the end of the city. Toward the 500 BC, in fact, following an epidemic of malaria, aggravated by the unhealthiness of the territory, the inhabitants gradually abandoned the city.
The rediscovery of Paestum dates back to 1762, when the modern road that still crosses it was built. Paestum represents one of the most sought-after stops by travelers of the Grand Tour.
Info: The Archaeological Area of Paestum is open every day, from 8:45 am until one hour before sunset.