Ancient greek city with three Doric temples
While knowledge of the presence of the temples was never completely lost, outside interest was only aroused in the mid 18th century, after the discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Drawings of the temples started to circulate in Naples, London and Paris and the occasional traveller would come to see the temples, but the distance from Naples, the unhealthy environment and wretchedness of the locals kept the number down.
Proper excavation of the site started only in the early 20th century. Initially emphasis was on the temples, the S. part of the cardo maximus and the area around the Forum. Progress was slow, and after the World War II most of the area was still untouched as can be seen from aerial photographs taken by the allied forces.
More systematic excavations started in the 1950s and 1960s, where the remaining parts of the Roman city centre was uncovered, including the amphitheatre, the gymnasium, the underground shrine and several residential areas of Roman times.
Several burial ground from various times have been found in the surrounding area, and the excavations have yielded huge quantities of tomb paintings and grave goods, including many pieces of arms and armour. The most famous tomb is without doubt the so called Tomb of the Diver with a painting of a man jumping into the water from a high tower.
The Archaeological Museum of Paestum was build in the 1950s to house the rich finds from the city and from the cemeteries.
Excavations and restorations are continuing, but only a small fraction of the original area of the city has been explored. Much of the remaining land is privately owned and is being cultivated.
The excavated parts of the ancient city can be visited during daytime, normally 9-15.
The archaeological museum is open a bit longer, 9-18:30.
Paestum can be reached by train or car. There are several hotels in the area, most of them near the coast.
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