Paestum Tickets

Temple of Hera: Significance, Why You Need to Visit & More

PaestumTemple of Hera

What is the Temple of Hera?

If you’re planning to visit Paestum, two major attractions are the twin Doric temples — the First Temple of Hera Paestum (or, Basilica) and the Second Temple of Hera (or, Neptune). Both of these Greek places of worship are housed inside the Archaeological Park of Paestum. A major tourist attraction, the two temples are the best-surviving examples of ancient Greek architecture. You can now plan your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site and experience the breathtaking marvel of the Magna Graecia (southern coastal Italy). 

Temple of Hera Quick Facts

Temple of Hera

Location: Via Magna Graecia, 917, 84047 Capaccio SA, Italy

Date of opening: 1826

Timings: 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM 

Architect: Greek Colonists in the 6th Century  BCE

Architectural style: Doric style 

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1998

Function: Place of worship 

Why Visit the Temple of Hera?

Temple of Hera
  • . Historical Significance: Get insights into the rituals, and beliefs that took within the walls of the two temples. 
  • Archaeological Park: The temple is part of the larger Paestum archaeological park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. 
  • Artistic Appeal: Original decorative features, such as the carved details in the entablature and pediment, can still be seen at the temple. This artistic excellence showcases the craftsmanship and aesthetic sensibilities of the ancient Greeks.
  • Educational Experience: A visit to the Temple of Hera Paestum provides an immersive educational experience, helping visitors appreciate the complexity and sophistication of ancient Greek society. 
  • Scenic Beauty: Surrounded by a landscape that blends natural beauty and ancient ruins, Paestum offers a unique, picturesque environment that can be enjoyed by all visitors.

Plan Your Visit to the Temple of Hera

Paestum Temple
Paestum Temple Location

What to See at the Two Temples of Hera

Paestum Temple Structure

Temple Structure

Visitors can explore numerous stone columns, a large platform (or stylobate), and an inner chamber (or cella) of the Basilica (Hera I). At the Temple of Neptune (Hera II), look closely at the details of the columns, the capitals, and the entablature to appreciate the architectural craftsmanship of the ancient Greeks.

Paestum Carving

Decorative Carvings

Despite centuries of exposure to the elements, some original decorative features, such as the carved details in the entablature and the pediment, can still be seen at the temple. These artistic details provide a glimpse into the artistry and craftsmanship of the time.

Temple of Hera altar

Cult Altar

Although not as well-preserved as the temple, in front of the temple of Hera II, the remains of the altar can be observed. This is where sacrifices and other rites would have been performed in honor of the goddess Hera.

History of the Temple of Hera 

Constructed around 550 BCE, the historical significance Temple of Hera I is deeply connected to its patron deity, Hera. The devotion to Hera is evidenced by votive offerings, mainly small terracotta statues of women. Such offerings, along with other relics, were frequently interred in sacred pits in the vicinity of the temple.

The cult dedicated to Hera likely focused on promoting fertility within local communities. Many of those who came to worship were either young women about to be married or individuals praying on behalf of such women. Despite later invasions by the Lucanians and Romans, the worship of Hera remained a vital aspect of local spiritual life, a fact reinforced by the construction of a second temple dedicated to the goddess.

The Temple of Hera II served as a place of worship for Zeus and an unidentified deity. On the eastern side, remnants of two altars - one large and one comparatively smaller - can be seen. Historians also state that the temple might have been initially dedicated to both Hera and Poseidon. This hypothesis is supported by certain votive statues discovered around the larger altar, which seem to indicate this dual dedication.

Architectural Style of the Temple of Hera

Two significant temples dedicated to Hera, the Greek goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth, were built in what is now known as Paestum Archaeological Park. 

Temple of Hera I

Temple of Hera I (Basilica)

Constructed around 550 BCE, this is the older of the two Hera temples in Paestum. Originally, it was believed to be a basilica, hence the name, but later it was identified as a temple dedicated to Hera. This temple is Doric and peripteral (surrounded by a single row of columns), with nine columns on the short sides and eighteen on the long ones. The interior was divided into a nave and two aisles by two rows of columns, a design typically seen in later basilicas but rare for a Greek temple.

Temple of Neptune

Temple of Hera II (Temple of Neptune)

Often referred to as the Temple of Neptune – a misnomer from early archaeologists – this temple is actually a second temple dedicated to Hera and was constructed around 460-450 BCE. It is larger and better preserved than Hera I, and it represents the pinnacle of the Doric order in its proportions and refinement of detail. This temple is also peripteral, with six columns along the short sides and fourteen along the long ones. The temple stands on a three-stepped platform and has a central cella with pronaos (front porch) and opisthodomos (rear porch), but unlike the Temple of Hera I, it does not have an internal row of columns.

Temple of Hera Today

Temple of Hera I

The Temple of Hera I traces its origins back to the era of the initial Greek colonies in Italy. It proudly rises above the green landscape that once hosted the ancient city of Poseidonia. This temple forms part of an archaeological site, sharing its space with two additional Greek temples and a Roman Forum.

Crafted from golden-hued travertine, the Temple of Hera II majestically presides over the remnants of the ancient city. Its double rows of Doric columns, once bearing the weight of a roof, now appear to support the very sky. Archaeologists regard this an unparalleled example of Doric architecture.

Frequently Asked Questions About Temple of Hera at Paestum

What is the Temple of Hera?

The two Tempels of Hera are the best-preserved Greek temples in the world. The first Temple of Hera was built around 550 BCE by the Greek colonists of Poseidonia. The Temple of Hera II was constructed around 460-450 BCE. It is more significant and better preserved than Hera I, representing Doric architecture's pinnacle.

Where can I buy Temple of Hera tickets?

You will find entry tickets to the Temple of Hera online

Can I visit the Temple of Hera with Paestum tickets?

Yes, you can use your Paestum tickets to gain entry to the Temple of Hera complex.

Who designed the Temple of Hera?

The two temples were designed & built by Greek settlers from Sybaris, who named the city Poseidonia.

When was the Temple of Hera built?

The Temple of Hera was constructed around around 550–525 BCE.

What’s inside the Temple of Hera?

In the Temple of Hera Paestum, you can see the colonnade of columns, the cella, the altar, and the raised foundation inside the temple complex.

What can I do at the Temple of Hera?

At the Temple of Hera, you can appreciate the architectural grandeur of these well-preserved Greek Doric temples, learn about their historical and cultural significance through guided tours, and capture stunning photographs of these ancient structures.

What are the timings of the Temple of Hera?

The Temple of Hera remains open from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM (last entry tickets are issued at 6:50 PM).

Where is the Temple of Hera located?

The Temple of Hera is in the coastal town of Paestum, Italy. It is nestled near the mouth of the Sele River along the Tyrrhenian Coast, in the Campania region.

Is Temple of Hera wheelchair accessible?

Unfortunately, the temple of Hera Paestum is not wheelchair accessible due to uneven terrain.

Is photography allowed at the Temple of Hera?

Photography is permitted in the temple complex. So, don’t forget to pack your photography gear. It is recommended to visit the temple in the early hours to catch the sunrise.

Is there a dress code for visiting the Temple of Hera?

There is no particular dress code to visit this temple. It is advisable to wear comfortable clothes as daytime can get pretty warm in Peastum.