Velia, known as Hyele, Ele, and Elea in ancient times, was a city of Magna Graecia situated on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was founded by Greeks from Phocaea around 538–535 BC and eventually adopted its Latin and Italian name during the Roman era. The city's ruins can be found near the modern village of Velia in the Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy.
The city is renowned for housing philosophers like Parmenides and Zeno of Elea, the originators of the Eleatic school of philosophy. The acropolis of ancient Elea, previously a promontory called Castello a Mare, now lies inland and was renamed Castellammare della Bruca during the Middle Ages.
Velia is situated close to the Tyrrhenian coast and the nearby Marina di Casalvelino and Marina di Ascea. The majority of its population resides in the plain by the sea and the hill zones of Enotria, Bosco, and Scifro. It also had a railway station on the Naples-Salerno-Reggio Calabria line that closed in the 1970s.
According to historical accounts, Ionian Greeks fled from the besieged city of Phocaea, in modern-day Turkey, in 545 BC. After a period of wanderings, they settled in Reggio Calabria, eventually founding the town of Hyele, which evolved into Elea. The city joined Rome in 273 BC and became part of ancient Lucania.
The city's remnants include city walls, a gate, several towers, unique bricks, cisterns, and other architectural traces. The Eleatics, a school of pre-Socratic philosophers, was founded in Elea during the 5th century BC. Famous inhabitants of the city included Parmenides, founder of the Eleatics, and Zeno of Elea, known for his paradoxes.
Other noteworthy features include the Porta Rosa, a rare Greek arch, the main street of Elea, a medieval tower built from a Greek temple, and the ancient coins like drachma and stater.