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VELIA AND PAESTUM – THE BEAUTIFUL ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE IN THE SOUTH OF ITALY

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We have traveled a lot for the continent, but this is a beauty of Italy pride left open- mouthed and definitely not to be missed if you’re in these parts …

 

In the land of the Cilento, area by gently rolling hills, the off-green olive trees that are reflected in the deep blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the woods and chestnut – colored in bright streams that cross lies a fascinating archaeological site…

 

At the beginning of 6th century B.C. Achaean farmers coming from Sibari founded the city of Poseidonia, one of the richest colonies in the Tytthenian Magna Graecia.

 

The city still today conserves large part of the surrounding walls, about four kilometers and seven hundred meters long, part of the Agora area with the Heroon and the three temples so- called of Ceres, of Nepture and Basilica, but really dedicated to Athena, Hera and perhaps Zeus.

 

At the end of 5th century B.C. Lucan people of Samnite origin, pressed by economic needs, took possession of the city that was later on around the end of 3rd century B.C., subtracted from them by the Roman advance: the colony of Paestum was born.

 

The National Archaeological Museum conserves, among its huge collections, the extraordinary cycle of metopes coming from the temple of Hera Argiva, the painted graves of Lucan epoch and the famous Diver’s Grave, sole example of Greek art.

 

Farther south of Poseidonia, around 540 B.C. the city of Elea was founded by a group of exiled Phoceans that escaped from Persian advance.

 

Around the fifty century, the remains of the apostle and evangelist Matthew arrived at Velia, in the vicinity of the thermal bath. Here they were buried from about four century. Rediscovered by the monk Anthanasius, he transferred the mortal remains which were placed in a compartment built of typical Velini bricks to the church San Matteo ad duo Flumina at Casal Velino Marina (2 km from here).

 

The city also developed thanks to the flourishing of the Eleatic school of Philosophy among the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.; still evident are the lodging quarter, the Porta Rosa (sole example of arch made of radial ashlars) that allowed connection between the two quarters of the city and the Asclepio sanctuary, while of Roman period are the thermal baths and the building for the imperial cult.

 

The Porta Rosa is most famous monuments of the Ancient city, discovered by M.Napoli in 1964.  It is a sandstone arch of a soft pink shade with round vault supported by two piers.

Particularly suggestive is the acropolis area, sheer to the sea, that encompasses the Roman theater, the Castellum maris built on the remains of the Greek temple of Elea, with its palatine chapel, and the church of Santa Maria.

 

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