The lonely Greek temples

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So where do you find a collection of Greek temples on what just look like a field? In Greece seem the obvious answer – you might – but you can actually find a very nice collection of ancient Greek temples just outside the small southern Italian city of Paestum.

When you drive towards the area you quickly spot three big temples which are in very good condition. The temples are Dorian temples built between 600 and 450 BC during the era of Magna Graecia when the Greeks had large colonies in the southern part of Italy. And they are surprisingly well preserved and are actually considered some of the best preserved major Greek temples anywhere in the world including Greece.

When the Roman took over the area in 273 BC they kept the temples ­– the Romans generally admired the Greek culture so the temples were integrated in the life of the now Roman city. The glory days of Paestum finally came to an end when the Roman Empire started its decline and in addition to suffering attacks from Saracens the city also came under pressure from repeated malaria outbreaks. So the ancient city more or less disappeared just leaving the temples behind. The temples were forgotten in the ground until the 18th century and excavation were only finished back in the 1950s.

The temples are off a pretty big scale and one of the most impressive archeological sites in southern Italy so it is a bit surprising so few people actually make it down here – you can walk around in peace without the crowds you will find other places. It seems like Pompeii a short drive further north ensure not many people make it further south to this place which is really a blessing for the few making it down here.

Theatre from Roman era

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