The Greek Temple of Hera was built in the 6th century BC next to the Bradano, a sacred and essential river in the conception and thought of the Achaeans who in 773 BC,
as reported by the ancient Greek historian Eusebius of Caesarea, founded Metapontion.
Its remains show the floor of the cell (naos), where the statue of the divinity was usually kept, with a space precluded to the faithful and intended for the officiants of the cult for religious functions (adyton) and a front vestibule (pronaos). The imposing surviving columns are 15, in local limestone (mazarro) as the rest of the building, each with 20 grooves and capitals of Doric order. Originally the temple was polychrome and plastered columns were 32 being the temple consists of a peristasis (porch) of 12 columns on the long sides and 6 on the short sides.
An ancient legend narrates that the temple was guarded by the NAIADI DI METAPONTION, splendid nymphs of the rivers with wonderful powers, whose presence has prevented it from being deteriorated by the action of time. It was erected on the remains of an ancient Neolithic village about 3 km from the ancient polis of Metapontion.
The vision of the Temple of Hera evokes the principle of the ancients according to which only a sacred place, beautiful and rich in symbolic elements could and should also be the "right" place to carry out a religious activity. As Plato wrote, "when choosing a site in which to build a city, those places in the territory where a certain divine breath blows are by far the most important”.
It is no coincidence that this place was chosen as the site of his school by Pythagoras, the Enlightened One of Samos, who, after 2600 years, is counted among the 10 personalities of history of all time that have most influenced Western thought and civilization today, as certified by a research of the MIT in Boston.
On the other hand that Pythagoras, after so much wandering, fugitive and tried in body and soul, found shelter in Metaponto, where, in absolute secrecy, he dispensed his precious teachings, those of maturity, until his death that took him there at a venerable age, is testified by many sources, even ancient ones. Dicearco of Messina (350-290 AD) writes "Departed from Samo, Pythagoras arrives in Italy in 530 BC, where he will guide his school for thirty-nine years, the first twenty of which spent in Crotone, the rest in Metaponto". Cicero (106-43 BC), in "De finibus" (V 2.4), refers to the tomb of Pythagoras at Metapontum: "For my part, or Piso, I agree with you: it commonly happens that the memory aroused by the places makes us think of famous men with greater intensity and attention. You know that once I went with you to Metaponto and I didn't enter the house of our guest before I saw the place where Pythagoras had died and his house”.
Further significant evidence of this can be found in a cartography of the Kingdom of Naples (1808), in which the Temple is identified with the toponym "Cattedra di Pitagora”.