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Parts of the archaeological site. The medieval tower (fortress of the 15th century) of Elea was built from the remains of the Greek temple.
Porta Rosa, part of the fortifications
ancient Greek street from the 4th / 3rd centuries Century BC Chr.
Stater from Elea, Athena with Centaur on helmet
Back of the stator, lion

Elea (Greek Ἐλέα, Roman Velia ) was an ancient Greek port city in the Campania region in southern Italy . Today the excavation site is less than a kilometer from the sea due to siltation and belongs to the modern coastal town of Ascea . The city is known as the home of the Eleatic School of Philosophy , whose better-known representatives included Parmenides and Zenon of Elea .


Around 540 BC Chr. The city was, initially under the name Hyele (Ὑέλη) of Phocaean founded Greeks. They had fled the Persian invasion and first founded the city of Alalia (today Aléria ) on Corsica , but were then driven out by the Etruscans and Carthaginians in the Battle of Alalia . Elea thus belonged to Magna Graecia , the Greek colonies of southern Italy. The city quickly developed into a comparatively influential trading city, which was established in the 4th century BC. Participated in the war against Dionysius I of Syracuse as a member of the League of Italians . During the First Punic War , Elea was a close ally of Rome and during the Second Punic War it temporarily became an important military base. 89/88 BC Elea was raised to a municipality under the new name Velia and granted citizenship . In the coastal area around Velia, influential Roman citizens, such as Marcus Tullius Cicero and the younger Cato , maintained well-equipped residences.

By shifting trade flows and silting up the port, the city became impoverished and was finally completely abandoned (around the 9th century). Today the ruins of the city, located near the town of Ascea, are part of the Cilento National Park , which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .


The minting of own coins started as early as 500 BC. A. The early coins are unmarked. The front of the coins often shows Athena with an Attic helmet, the reverse often shows an owl based on the Attic model or a lion. Initially only silver coins were minted, later (from approx. 350–300 BC) bronze coins were also minted as small change.


  • Gerhard Radke: Velia 1. In: The Little Pauly (KlP). Volume 5, Stuttgart 1975, Sp. 1157 f.

Web links

Commons : Velia (town)  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Elea - Velia  - travel guide

Individual evidence

  1. Eva u. Wolfgang Szaivert, David R. Sear: Greek coin catalog. Volume 1: Europe. Battenberg, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-87045-182-3 , pp. 127-129.

Coordinates: 40 ° 10 '  N , 15 ° 9'  E