Parco Archeologico di Velia – Marina di Ascea, Italy - Atlas Obscura

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Parco Archeologico di Velia

Marina di Ascea, Italy

This ancient city was home to one of the greatest schools of Greek philosophy. 


The ancient Roman city of Velia, located on the Cilento coast in Southern Italy, was founded by Greeks from Phocaea during the 6th-century BCE as Hyele. It was later known as Elea.

Elea quickly became a flourishing town and one of the most important cultural centers of the Greek world. It was home to the foundation of the Eleatic school of philosophy by Parmenides in the early 5th-century BCE.

Parmenides is regarded as the founder of metaphysics or ontology, while his follower Zeno is famous for his paradoxes of motion. Valuing rationality over sense experience, the Eleatics had an immense impact and influence on Western philosophy.

In the following centuries, Elea allied with Rome and fought off the Lucanians. It later became part of the Roman Republic as Velia. The prosperous city started to decline when the new Via Popilia, the Roman road connecting the capital with Southern Italy, cut Velia off, making it more isolated.

At the end of the Imperial age, the deteriorating coast had turned into a marsh and the city was slowly abandoned over the course of the Middle Ages. The ruins of Elea-Velia were rediscovered in the 19th-century and now constitute a large archaeological park.

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