Ascea, Italy

Velia was the Roman name of an ancient city of Magna Graecia on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was founded by Greeks from Phocaea as Hyele around 538–535 BC. The name later changed to Ele and then Elea before it became known by its current Latin and Italian name during the Roman era. Its ruins are located in the Cilento region near the modern village Velia, which was named after the ancient city.

The city was known for being the home of the philosophers Parmenides and Zeno of Elea, as well as the Eleatic school of which they were a part. The site of the acropolis of ancient Elea was once a promontory called Castello a Mare, meaning 'castle on the sea' in Italian. It now lies inland and was renamed to Castellammare della Bruca in the Middle Ages.

Remains of the city walls, with traces of one gate and several towers, of a total length of over three miles, still exist, and belong to three different periods, in all of which the crystalline limestone of the locality is used. Bricks were also employed in later times; their form is peculiar to this place, each having two rectangular channels on one side, and being about 1.5 inches square, with a thickness of nearly 4 inches They all bear Greek brick-stamps. There are some remains of cisterns on the site, and, various other traces of buildings.

In February 2022, archaeologists from the Velia excavation reported the discovery of two well-preserved bronze Greek helmets with Etruscan design, the remains of a painted brick wall and vases at the site of Velia. According to Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, the excavation included metal fragments from weapons, vases with the Greek inscription for 'sacred'.



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Via Isacia, Ascea, Italy
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Founded: 538-535 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Francesco Colace (2 years ago)
A wonderful place. A way to walk in the history!!
Ale Galavotti (2 years ago)
Actually in this park you have more to imagine than to see, but for its importance for the development of occidental thought and for some uniquities I highly reccomend it. Here you can see the only one Greek Arch discovered in the world. Velia/Elia gave birth to Parmenide and Zenone , two of the most important philosopher of the ancient world whose thought had big influence on Socrates. Parmenide was the first to think that only with rationality one can understand world, and with his intelligence he understood that god need to be, one , with no parts, with no beginning and end, everywere. Zenone, his follower founded the "ad absurdum" way of thinking, of top importance to solve matematical and philosopical problems. On top there is a medieval tower with beautiful seaview. Prepare to climb and descend, so better to have gym shoes and a bottle of fresh water. This archaeological park is still mostly uncovered: only 10% of the area is carved out.
Sir Travelton (4 years ago)
Elea is a hidden surprise for archaelogy fans. It is larger than Pompei, but only 5% excavated. It features Greek, Roman and medieval architecture. Especially positive was the FREE GUIDED TOUR that we got when arriving, but it was in Italian. From the tour we learned a lot about the high importance of the ancient city and some famous inhabitants, that most of us have heard about already. Anyway, the site has quite a lot of explanatory signs in english. Combine the trip with a beach dip at Ascea and the day is yours to enjoy. As an additional bonus, the site has some Pokémon GO stops and arenas.
Roberto Chiaveri (4 years ago)
Not (yet) as rich as Pæstum but still interesting and enjoyable. With Covid accompanied tours are mandatory, which actually improves the experience. Very hot in summer, bring sporty shoes because it's a bit of a trek around.
alex passmore (7 years ago)
Magnificent location for this ancient city founded by the Greeks in the 5th century BC. It is well worth visiting in conjunction with a trip to the more famous Paestum about 50km to the north-west of Velia/Elea.
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