Cilento and Vallo di Diano

The Cilento is a cultural landscape that has blossomed in prehistoric times and the Middle Ages. Because of its geographical location, it played an important role in Mediterranean trade, culture and politics.

Colonization by the Greeks started here in the 7th century BC, as part of the development of Magna Graecia (the towns founded by Greeks along the coast of South Italy and Sicily). Agropoli and Poseidonia were among these new colonies, later followed by Elea.

Most of the towns and trading routes fell into decline after the region became part of the jurisdiction of Rome (3rd century BC). Only in the Middle Ages these revived, and castles and religious buildings were added to the landscape that is characterized by its east-west mountain ranges and favourable climate.


Visit January 2005

From my hotel in Paestum, I explored this rather large area in two stages. On the first day I visited the archaeological remains in Paestum itself. The ancient Greek buildings are in an unbelievable good condition. They are the best examples I've ever seen, they may even be the best around in what's left of Ancient Greece. The local museum is also worthwhile, especially to see the painted coffins like the Tomb of the Diver (as old as 480 BC).

Two days later I got back in the car and criss-crossed the valleys. I had some trouble finding the places I wanted to see (that happens quite often), so I spent more time behind the wheel than I had hoped for. But I did reach ancient Elea, where the round Porta Rosa gate overlooks its surroundings like a medieval tower.

In Padula, on the other side of the valley, the San Lorenzo charterhouse is a mighty building. It shows a far more recent episode in Cilento's history: the design is mainly Baroque. The city of Padula itself is strategically built on a hilltop, which you see quite often in this region. Roccagloriosa and Roccadaspide are two other good examples of these medieval building tactics.

Community Reviews

Philipp Peterer - January 2015

Paestum is the most underrated place I visited so far on my various trips to WHS. The three temples, especially the Apollo temple, are outstanding. No other Greek or Roman temple I saw so far can match them. Paestum together with Velia would deserve a separate WHS instead of being tucked together with the rather unspectacular villages and places that are included in the same world heritage site.

john booth - September 2011

This site covers a huge area, including a wealth of coastal, rural and mountain scenery. Besides this I took trains to find the ancient Greek enclave of Velia (near Ascea station) with its mosaics. I then returned to Paestum (which has its own station) to see the statuesque temples of Athena, Neptune and Hera, all reminiscent of Athens.

Trenitalia runs a bus service from Battipaglia down the Vallo di Diano to Padula which I took to visit the huge San Lorenzo monastery.

Share your experiences!

Have you been to Cilento and Vallo di Diano? Click here to add your own review.

Site Info

Full name: Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Archeological sites of Paestum and Velia, and the Certosa di Padula

Site History

  • 1998 - Inscribed

    Reasons for inscription
  • 1998 - Revision

    Derived from the former TWHS Paestum, Posidonia and Certosa di Padula


The site has 3 locations.

  • Capo Palinuro, Punta d. Infreschi and the Mount Bulgheria region Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy
  • Paestum, Velia, the Certosa di Padula, Mount Cervati and the Vallo di Diano Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy
  • Punta Licosa and the Mount Stella region Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy


The site has 28 connections.


  • Cave dwellings Castelcivita Caves were probably used as a hiding place for Spartacus' rebels army
  • Macellum In Paestum





Human Activity

Religion and Belief

  • Goddesses Paestum: Temple of Hera and Temple of Athena


  • Built in the 17th century 2 key episodes (2): "Certosa di San Lorenzo at Padula in the Vallo di Diano. Construction began in 1306, but in its present form it is essentially Baroque, built in the 17th and 18th centuries" (AB ev)
  • Built in the 6th century BC 2 key episodes (1): Paestum, Temple of Hera "built around 550 BC by Greek colonists" (wiki)

WHS Hotspots

WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process