Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Baiae - the Las Vegas of ancient Rome resurfaces

Baiae was a mineral springs and coastal resort on the northwest shore of the Gulf of Naples in ancient Italy. It was fashionable for centuries during antiquity for the super-rich. It was notorious for its hedonistic offerings, corruption and scandal. It later formed part of Port Julius, the base of the western fleet of the Imperial Roman Navy. Its ruins largely submerged by local volcanic activity by the time of the Renaissance.

Baiae was built on the Cumaean Peninsula in the Phlegraean Fields, an active volcanic area.
The bathhouses of Baiae were filled with warm mineral water directed to its pools from underground sulfur springs.

Roman engineers constructed a complex system of chambers that channeled underground heat into facilities that acted as saunas.
'Rome’s Sunken Secrets' follows a series of dives involving historians and scientists from across the world. They revealed vast villas, priceless statues and breathtaking mosaics, as well as heated spas, cobbled streets and even a nymphaeum – a grotto of pleasure.

The chambers of volcanic molten rock that lay beneath Baiae, providing the hot water that served the spas, were eventually its undoing. The chambers emptied as the lava found a way to escape, causing the resort to sink beneath the waves.