Treasure trove of the magnificent gulf
At the end of the I century, the poet Horace described the area of the Phlegraean Fields as follows: "No gulf in the world stands out more than agreeable Baia". A place of light and "amoenitas", that is, of elegance and pleasure, that bring joy and elevate both one's view and soul. Mythological burial ground of Ulysses' helmsman and favoured "pleasant retreat" for Roman patricians, the entire area is a key concentration of myths, history, identity and excellence from Campania, nowadays protected and offered to the public in the magnificent collection housed in the Phlegraean Fields Archaeological Museum.
The area's history
From the end of the Republican age, thanks to its favoured location and spa waters, the Baia area became the perfect holiday destination, initially for the Roman aristocracy and later the Roman emperors.
Numerous villas were erected in the area to allow the illustrious holidaymakers to lead their "otium" in the best fashion possible; magnificent, luxuriously furnished villas of which numerous traces remain today, although a large part of the archaeological complex has sunk below sea level due to aggressive ground subsidence.
The Phlegraean Fields Archaeological Museum, located in the fifteenth century castle in Baia, was gradually created in the 1980s and opened under its current guise in 2010.
The Museum is also part of the Archaeological Park of Phlegraean Fields, an Institute with special autonomy (Ministerial Decree 23 January 2016) that includes the key archaeological sites and monuments in the Phlegraean area.
The Aragonese Castle built in 1495 and current-day home to the Museum, has 57 rooms (48 of which are presently open to the public), arranged to reflect the unusual and appealing layout of the entire Phlegraean land, and is a place that brings together and represents the cultural and naturalistic aspects that have made the Phlegraean Fields context so unique, since Ancient times.
The structure displays exceptional finds from Baia, Miseno and Bacoli: the imposing "Sacello degli Augustali" in Miseno, reconstructed with its architectural and sculptural decoration; the group of sculptures of the Ninfeo di Punta Epitaffio, found during an underwater excavation; and the collection of "Baia plaster works" consisting of hundreds of fragments of moulds cast directly on the most famous Greek sculptures of the classic period and used as models, between the I and II centuries A.D. to create marble copies that would adorn villas and public buildings.