It was located about 7 km south of the mouth of the Silario River. Paestum was founded by Greeks from Sybaris under the name of Posidonia at an unknown date, probably in the late 7th century BC. C. or first half of the 6th century BC.
When the neighboring Velia was founded, in 540 a. C., Posidonia already existed and was a considerable city, but nothing is known of its history. In 510 BC C., Sybaris was destroyed, but its inhabitants did not settle in Posidonia, but in Laos and Escidros. Its prosperity is attested by the remains (known as the Temples of Paestum) and numerous coins that have been found. The face of the god Poseidon appeared on the coins minted in the city.The city remained in continuous occupation during the period of the Roman Empire, but the overflow of the Salso river, which bordered the city, together perhaps with a phenomenon of bradysism, turned a large part of Paestum into a swamp, a breeding ground for malaria. In the 5th century it was the seat of a bishopric. The signs of its slow decline are evident and irreversible in the course of the 4th and 5th centuries, when only one inhabited center remained, concentrated around the ancient Athenaion.
It was one of the first Greek cities to fall into the hands of the Lucanians, who changed their name to Paistom, around 390 BC. C., when Laos was besieged and was already the main Greek stronghold in the area. According to Aristoxenus, the inhabitants were not expelled, but received a contingent of Lucanians in the city.
In the year 335 a. C., King Alexander of Epirus, Alexander the Great’s uncle, seized the city which, just four years later, returned to the hands of the Lucanians.
In 273 BC C. it became the Roman colony of Latin law of Paestum, after it fought on the side of the defeated Pyrrhus of Epirus, in the war against Rome at the beginning of the 3rd century BC. c.
It was a prosperous city, and it is practically not mentioned during the Republic, but Cicero, Strabo and others speak of it. During the Roman Empire, it was one of the eight prefectures of Lucania. It recovered the title of colony, according to an inscription, probably in the times of Trajan or Hadrian.
WHAT TO SEE IN PAESTUM
HOW TO GET TO PAESTUM?
From Naples you can go by car along the highway towards Salerno and later to Battiplagia, from where you take the exit towards Paestum. You drive about 23 km until you reach the Archaeological Park.
Traveling by bus is inadvisable as it takes about two hours to get there from Naples and one hour and 20 minutes from Salerno.
The train takes you from Napoli Centrale to Paestum and takes about an hour and a quarter.
A very comfortable option is to hire an organized trip that picks you up in Naples or Salerno and takes you as a guide through one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Italy.