Velia is the Roman name given to the ancient Greek city of Helea, founded in 540 BC circa by the exiles from Phocaea, in modern Turkey, which in 88 BC became a Roman municipality.
Helea became one of the most important centre for the study of ancient Greece. In fact, of major importance were the Eleatic school of philosophy and the medical school. Today, the excavations have unearthed the remains of a thriving city.
It occupied a territory of about 90 hectares and had organized neighborhoods connected by roads, crossings and ports. Of the ancient city remain considerable traces on the Acropolis, where there is a settlement of well-preserved houses.
The Acropolis became afterwards a place of worship, and other neighborhoods were built around the slopes and terraces of the hill.
To the two districts, northern and southern, corresponded as many doors, wonderful examples of architecture of the time, while at the western end of the walls, along the ridge from the Acropolis, there are small shrines, altars and votive stones, some evidence of the worship of Poseidon, Zeus, Athena, Demeter, Hera, Persephone.
The spas and the cryptoportico, a public building built in the first century BC that is thought to have been the site of the medical school, belong to the Roman age.