Ancient city of Elea Velia was a wealthy trading center known for its thermal baths benefits, a wise law system and especially for the philosophical school founded by Parmenides who was followed by his pupil Zenone later on. The city was founded by a group of exiles from Grece around the 540 BC close to the spring of river Hyele from which it takes its name. All over the Hellenic period and a large part of the Roman period the city is at its height.
Elea was founded in the second half of the sixth century BC from exiles coming from the city of Focea in Ionia (ancient coastal region of Asia Minor). The city was known for its flourishing businesses and its government policy. He also assumed great cultural importance when Parmenides founded his pre-Socratic philosophical school.
Elea always maintained good relations with Rome, until becoming a Roman municipality with the name of Velia: however, he maintained the Greek language and the ability to coin money. Its decline began when the progressive silting up of the ports and the progress of the marshy land forced its inhabitants to retreat to the upper part of the Acropolis. The construction of the Via Pompilia, which cut it off from the main trade routes, contributed to the progressive abandonment of the center.
The archaeological park of Elea (Velia)
The visitor can enjoy the amazing natural landscape of Mediterranean forest lined with age-old olive trees surrounding the ruins.
There are buildings dating from Hellenic and Roman periods in the lower part the town, then the driveway following the defensive walls of around 3 miles in front of the Imperial Rome necropolis with individual graves and funerary yards.
The entrance is through Porta Marina Sud which is guarded by a squared tower built between the V and the III centuries.
To the right side of the gate there are the remains of an ancient public building dating back to Augustus principate period. To the left there's a quarter which was aimed to housing and trading and where there are at least four houses dating from Imperial Rome period. Turning right the visitor will meet another elegant public building dating from Imperial Rome as well. It's visually designed on two levels and an axis in the middle with a ninfeo to one side and to the other a tub enclosed by a set of brick steps partially preserved covered by slabs of marble.
Walking back to Porta Marina and past two more districts, the visitor will get Pozzo Sacro which was maybe devoted to Hermes. Going straight on via di Porta Rosa we find Hadrian's thermal baths decorated with a splendid mosaic of white and black pieces representing animals and sea monsters. Finally up to the hill there's the Agorà which is supposed to be a sanctuary to God Asclepius, epitome of the healing process of medicine.
Excavations are now a UNESCO heritage site.
July-Sept: from Friday to Wednsday from 9am until one hour before sunset .
Oct-June: Wednsday to Monday from 9am until one hour before sunset.
Ticket price: Full: €3 - Reduced: €1,50
Free entry under 18 (EU citizens only) and everyone on the first Sunday of every month.
FOUNDATION: VI century BC
SUNSET: late Imperial Rome
MANAGEMENT: Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Salerno e Avellino
How to get to Elea (Velia)
Take motorway from Naples then take exit Battipaglia and follow the road Vallo della Lucania – Sapri (freeway Cilentana).
From Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway: take exit Battipaglia and then follow street signs to Ascea Marina and then to Elea Velia excavations.
The nearest train station is Marina di Ascea. From there it is possible to reach the park by bus.
There are bus rides that connect Ascea to Casal Velino that also lead to the excavations of Elea.