Baia - History and Facts | History Hit


Bacoli, Campania, Italy

Baia was once the summer retreat of Ancient Rome’s elite and is now an archaeological park outside Naples.

Antara Bate

29 May 2021

About Baia

Baia, also known as Baiae, is an impressive archaeological complex in Campania in Italy housing the remains of a series of summer homes of the leaders of Ancient Rome.

Baia history

Development began in Baia in the 2nd century BC, during the republican era and continued into the imperial age, when the Emperor Augustus connected all the lavish villas in the area with a road. It was also under Augustus that Baia was furnished with its grand thermal baths.

Augustus’s successors, notably Nero, Hadrian, and Alexander Severus continued to expand and develop Baia, transforming it into an expansive mass of villas and leisure facilities. It became a retreat for Rome’s elite, sometimes described as the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire.

A prominent resort city for centuries, Baia catered to the recreational whims of the rich and powerful among the Roman elite. The city, which was located over natural volcanic vents, was famous for its healing medicinal hot springs which occurred all around the city and were quite easy to build spas over. Some of antiquity’s most powerful figures such as Nero, Cicero, and Caesar were known to have visited the city and a number of them actually built permanent vacation villas there.

Unfortunately, the good times were not to last and the city was sacked by a Muslim army in the 8th century. By 1500, the remains of the formerly luxurious town were abandoned. After the city remains were emptied, the water level slowly rose due to the same volcanic vents that were once a draw to the area, and most of the ancient ruins were drowned under the shallow waters of the bay.

Baia, in the Phlegrean Fields, in the province of Naples, at the time of the ancient Romans became a thriving health and holiday location, near the important commercial port of Portus Julius and the base of the military fleet of Capo Miseno. In this area, the phenomenon of “bradisismo” , due to the volcanic action of the territory, caused the sinking of part of the important ruins. Imperial baths, precious mosaics, sinuous statues and marble floors have been found underwater. To protect all this, in 2002 the Archaeological Marine Park of Baia was created

Baia today

Several pretty ruins remain at Baia, lying sprawled over the hills and near the coast. However, much of this almost-city, known by many as “little Rome” has since been swept into the sea.

The archaeological park area contains impressive ruins of thermal and hydraulic structures, the ‘Cento Camerelle’, the ‘Piscina Mirabilis’, the Tomb of Agrippina, the military port of Miseno, the theatre, and various monumental tombs.

The site is part of the “Parco archeologico dei Campi Flegrei”, that is located between Pozzuoli, Cuma and Capo Miseno. This area was appreciated for the beautiful landscape even in the ancient times.

Some visitors choose to snorkel or scuba dive in the area to see the submerged ruins.

Getting to Baia

The site is located at Via Sella di Baia. Visitors can reach it by taking the L2 metro line to Pozzuoli Solfatara.

Featured In

Emperor Augustus Sites

Discover the ancient world of Roman Emperor Augustus at these 10 historic sites, from his house in Rome to the battlefield of his most famous victory.