The ancient city has been under water for centuries

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The ancient city has been under water for centuries

Baiae is an ancient Roman city located northwest of Naples. What sets it apart from other ancient Roman cities is that it hosted many emperors, including Julius Caesar. Submerged in volcanic vents, the city was found in 1940 by Raimondo Boucher, a pilot in the Italian Air Force. Let’s explore the ancient Roman ruins in and around the sunken city of Baiae, which was once the favorite city of Rome’s most eminent people!

History of the sunken city of Baia

The first settlement in Baiae dates back to BC. Although it coincides with the second century BC, the city gained its real fame during the reign of Emperor Augustus. While Augustus connected all the luxury villas in the area with a road, the houses were also furnished with large thermal baths. Augustus Nero’s successors Hadrian and Alexander Severus also continued to expand and develop Baia, having built large villas and leisure centers over the years.

As can be understood from here, Baia has become a city where the privileged inhabitants of Rome live and throw unlimited parties. Perched atop natural volcanic vents, the town has been particularly known for its curative hot springs. It is known that the most famous figures of antiquity such as Nero, Cicero and Caesar visited Baia frequently, and many of them built summer villas there.

Known as ancient Roman Las Vegas and also known as “Caesar’s City,” this enchanted life in Baia ended with the sacking of the city in the eighth century. By 1500, the city was gradually abandoned because it was too prone to volcanic eruptions and because of an epidemic of malaria. Soon after they were abandoned, the water level slowly rose due to volcanic vents and the Baiae disappeared into the shallow waters of the bay.

The Italian pilot first noticed the sunken city while flying at low altitude

Ancient Roman ruins are occasionally found in the area during the 19th century. In the 1920s, the discovery of marble statues while carrying out a dredging operation off Pozzuoli caught the attention of the Italian leader at the time, Benito Mussolini, and he wanted to evacuate the area. The real discovery of the city took place in 1940. While flying low over the port of Portos Julius, Italian Air Force pilot Raimondo Bauchet spotted Baia, which he described as a “strange ghost town”.

Aerial photographs by Boucher, who was also an editor, showed Baia with exceptional clarity. The fact that the water was 1.5 meters deep and that the sea was crystal clear that day revealed a world that had been unknown until then.

Excavations in and around the sunken city of Baia first began in 1959, but the main work was done in the early 1980s. During this work, the Nymphaeum was found, a room filled with marble statues, built by Emperor Claudius. Archaeologists have discovered dozens of historical artifacts since then.

Baths, fountains, luxury homes, mosaics and statues are just a few of them, however, there is a very valuable inscription among the artifacts found, namely L Pisonis. Although Piso believes this is how he will become emperor, Nero cancels his visit to Baiae because he learns of the assassination plot.

Baiae has become an important tourist destination today after archaeological excavations

Located in the Gulf of Naples, Baiae has become an important tourist center today after archaeological excavations. Every year thousands of tourists visit the area to see the sunken city of Baia. Tours take place at sea using glass-bottom boats, and the magical underwater city can be explored with diving operators.

Some visitors notice the sunken city by snorkeling. During these tours, it is possible to view the villas, baths, mosaics, sculptures, and many other works of distinguished Roman families. Although the walls of some buildings have collapsed, the rooms can still be distinguished. The mosaic floors in many of the rooms are still intact.

Places to visit around the sunken city of Baiae

Besides the underwater archaeological park at Baiae, there are many more Roman ruins for you to visit. The most common of these are:

Mercury Temple

The sunken city of Bayai

The Temple of Mercury had the largest dome in the world at 21.5 meters until the Pantheon was built. The temple, which has the oldest known concrete dome, dates back to BC. It was built in the first century, using tuff blocks.

Diana Temple

The sunken city of Bayai

The Temple of Diana, which has a collapsed half-giant dome today, was used for thermal baths in ancient Roman times. The walls of the temple are decorated with friezes depicting hunting scenes.

Temple of Venus

The sunken city of Bayai

Temple of Venus, BC. It was built in 46 BC by Julius Caesar for the Roman goddess Venus. The building, badly damaged in a fire in AD 80, was rebuilt by Domitian, and restored by Trajan in AD 113. Its three existing columns contain parts from the recent restoration.

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