About Velia Archaeological Site
The Velia Archaeological Site (Scavi di Velia) in Campania houses the remains of a Greek colony turned Roman municipality. Along with the better-known sites of the Certosa of Padula and Paestum, Velia is a part of this UNESCO World Heritage group that is lesser-known.
History of Velia Archaeological Site
Velia was originally founded by a Greek community as the colony of ‘Elea’ in 540 BC. With the help of prominent citizens and philosophers Zeno and Parmenides (the latter having founded the school of Eleatics, the former having been a member), Velia managed to overcome several attacks including from Poseidonia and the Lucanians.
During the Second Punic War, Velia provided ships to Rome for its fight against Hannibal and in 88 BC it became a municipality of the Roman Empire. The decline of Velia, which was dependent on naval commerce, coincided with the reduced need for its harbour.
Velia Archaeological Site Today
Today, the Velia Archaeological Site contains an array of ancient ruins as well as medieval ones. Visitors can see a series of public buildings and monuments from the Greek and Roman eras including third century BC fortifications, a large fourth century BC arch known as the Pink Gate, second century AD Roman baths with mosaics, a theatre, and the Palatina Chapel which now houses a little museum with findings from excavations at the site.
The Velia Archaeological Site also has medieval sites such as its eleventh/twelfth century castle, which is recognisable by its rounded towers and turrets.
Getting to Velia Archaeological Site
From the centre of Campania, the site is reachable in around 2 hours by car via the A2/E841 roads. From the centre of Velia, the site is reachable in around 15 minutes by car via via SP433 and SR447 roads. By bike, it takes around half an hour to reach the site via the same roads.