During the time of the Roman Empire, the city of Baia was the place to be. It was the Las Vegas of the ancient world filled with wealth, power, and hedonism. The city was a playground for the Romans and was famous for its healing medicinal hot springs. Figures like Nero and Caesar often visited and even built vacation villas there.
The city was built on the shores of the Gulf of Naples and enjoyed its high status from 100 B.C. to 500 A.D. However, sometime in the 8th-century Muslim raiders decimated the town. Baia was completely abandoned in 1500 after an outbreak of malaria. Afterward, Mother Nature took charge of the city.
The hot springs Baia was famous for, ultimately caused the city to drown. They were built on natural volcanic vents, and volcanic activity caused the gradual desertion of the ground underneath Baia. Now, more than 328 feet of the ancient city is only accessible to glass bottom boats, scuba divers, and snorkelers.
Those brave enough to visit will find much of the city still intact. Many of the city’s statues still watch over Baia as visitors sift through sediment to unearth the mosaic floors that are still in pristine condition. Remnants of the city’s walls can be seen as well as the ruins of former villas and bathhouses. It’s an eerie sight for anyone who visits.
Other parts of the city are still above water or only partially submerged. Tourists can visit The Temple of Mercury, which was used as the public bathhouse. The Temple of Venus is above ground, along with the remains of Villa of the Ambulatio.
Archeologists have been working to preserve the site from looters and general decay since 1993. The site has been a protected Marine area since 2002. Only licensed scuba divers registered with local dive shops can lead underwater tours. Visitors can explore the site every day of the week except for Mondays from 9am until one hour before sunset.
- The Sunken City of Baia [Atlas Obscura]
- Bradyseism [Wikitonary]
- Baiae [Britannica]
- The Ancient Sunken City of Baia [History Daily]
- Baiae A Roman Settlement At the Bottom of the Sea [BBC]
- Tickets [Tick Italy]
- Feature Picture [Wikimedia]