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Bacoli, like all the Phlegraean Fields, is an area rich from an archaeological point of view. Among the many finds absolutely noteworthy are the Terme di Baia, a vast spa and residential complex dating back to ancient Rome that still retains its natural and landscape charm.
The area is part of the Phlegraean Fields Archaeological Park that extends between Pozzuoli, Cuma and Cape Miseno including the Castle of Baia, the Archaeological Park of Cuma and the Flavian Amphitheater of Pozzuoli.
The Archeological Park of Terme di Baia is located in the homonymous locality in the area of the Phlegraean Fields, from the Latin phlegrāea and the Greek phlégra that is “that burns”, since the whole area represents the caldera of the homonymous volcano born about 15000 years ago during the eruption of the Neapolitan yellow tuff, from the name of the deposit of ashes that settled on the adjacent zones, and whose crater is represented by the current Gulf of Pozzuoli.
At the time of the Ancient Rome this locality, thanks to its characteristics and natural beauties like the thermal waters, became a very sought after and renowned tourist destination, a place where people can relax and regenerate.
Many important emperors and personalities of that period built their own luxurious holiday homes in Baiae where they were tested and executed the most modern, daring and refined architectural techniques such as the Temple of Mercury, whose dome isn’t only older but it measures half of the Pantheon in Rome, so the scholars suppose that it was the prototype.
Over time, the Terme di Baia underwent numerous enlargements and modifications, such as to make it very difficult to identify some environments, having lost its original function. After Augustus, in fact, they were enlarged by Nero, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Alexander Severus to constitute an immense thermal town. Large buildings were built for baths, leisure, libraries, gyms and gardens according to the rule “mens sana in corpore sano”.
The popularity of Baiae remained until the late ancient age, when by the fourth century AD, due to bradyseism, the land began to gradually subside, and in the seventh century AD a part of the city was completely submerged.
According to an ancient legend, Baiae owes its name to Bajos, helmsman and companion of Ulysses, dead and buried in this area.
The archaeological complex is not presented as a single monument and it’s divided into sectors that include: