An ancient city on a promontory
The origins of ancient Velia can be traced back to the battle of Alalia off the coast of Corsica, fought by a colony of the Phocaeans fleeing from the Persians who had invaded present-day Turkey. Due to their expertise in maritime trading, Alalia became the scene of conflict with the Etruscans and Carthaginians and was abandoned. The new city was founded here in the 6th century BC. Originally called Yele, its name was later changed to Elea. It was the Romans who called this city Velia.
The city stood on a promontory overlooking the sea with two coves offering shelter to ships and providing excellent conditions for trade. Here was also the home of the Eleatic School, which was formed around the philosopher Parmenides, born in Elea. Zeno, a pupil of Parmenides, also studied there.
Today, the Archaeological Park of Velia is one of the most important sites of its kind in Southern Italy. It once contained a temple dedicated to Athena and another to Aesculapius. Much still remains of the ancient city including the port area, the Greek and Roman baths, a market place, the acropolis and two residential districts. You can also admire the Porta Rosa, which has the oldest round arch in Italy.