The ancient city of Elea derives its name from the local source Hyele and was founded around 540 BC from a group of refugees from the Greek city of Phocaea, in modern Turkey, occupied by the Persians. The city is known in the fifth century especially for the figures of Parmenides and Zeno, founder of the famous school of Eleatic philosophy and it reaches a period of great development in the Hellenistic period and largely in Roman age (end of IV BC - V century AD.), when its name is changed to Velia. The architectural structures of the ancient city are immersed in a vast area of Mediterranean and lush olive groves constituting a splendid combination of archeology and nature.
The tour begins from the lower city where most of the buildings date back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Before the walls is a necropolis of the Imperial Age (I-II cent. AD) which are visible individual burials and funerary enclosures within which gathered several depositions.
Going up to the Acropolis, there is the ancient town of Velia (VI century BC.) of which are the ruins of houses lined up along a road. The place was abandoned and obliterated in the fifth century in order to build public buildings, civil and religious which are partially preserved on the Acropolis: a theater built in Roman times on the remains of a more ancient temple damaged in the Middle Ages when a castle was built.
Famous is the “Porta Rosa”, the symbol of the city, a splendid example of the arc by the Greeks.