In Roman times, the Castle hill was occupied by a residential complex, probably one of Caesar's villas also described by Tacitus, and whose remains were incorporated during the construction of the fortress in 1495.
After it was conquered in 1504 by Ferdinand the Catholic, King of the Crown of Aragon, the Kingdom of Naples was converted into a Vice-royalty and its coastal fortresses were affected by a radical restructuring and expansion, in order to make them more effective against the Saracen and Turkish raids.
The castle of Baia also began carrying out improvement works, lasting from 1538 to 1550 and which gave it its current star shape. The castle retained its military function throughout the period of the Spanish Vice-Royalty (1503-1707), and during the Austrian rule (1707-1734), and finally during the Bourbon reign (1734-1860).
After the unification of Italy, the fortress experienced a period of decline and abandonment until 1927 when the state arranged for its concession to the Royal Military Orphanage, which decided to carry out numerous renovations. During the Second World War, the castle was briefly used as a prison and residence for prisoners of war, after which it regained its function as a military orphanage, which it maintained until 1975.
As a result of the devastating earthquake in Irpinia in 1980, the fortress was passed on to the Campania Region and was used for some years as an extraordinary refuge for some Neapolitan families, before being definitively consigned to the Archaeological Superintendence of Naples and Caserta in 1984, becoming the seat of the Archaeological Museum of the Phlegraean Fields.
Opened in its current configuration in 2010, the Museum is also part of the Archaeological Park of the Phlegraean Fields, which includes the main archaeological sites and monuments of the Phlegraean territory.
DID YOU KNOW THAT... ?
The Museum offers a vast and fascinating exhibition itinerary focused on the reconstruction and restitution of all the historical, cultural and naturalistic features typical of the Phlegraean area.
In fact, the structure exhibits exceptional testimonies, such as the "Sacello degli Augustali" in Miseno, rebuilt with its architectural and sculptural decoration; or the complex of sculptures of the Nymphaeum of Punta Epitaffio, found during an underwater excavation.
Also, particularly representative, is the famous collection of the "Baia plaster casts", consisting of hundreds of fragments of casts made directly on the most famous Greek sculptures of the classical age. Between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, these casts were used as models for the creation of marble copies intended for the decoration of villas and public buildings.