Art and Culture

Baia Castle - Phlegraean Fields - Naples


The History

Just on the ruins of the Imperial Palace, according to many authoritative scholars, it rises the Castle of Baia.
And indeed traces of communication trenches, "opus reticolatum", thermal rooms and structures of different nature are today still visible.
The fortress of Baia expands on a surface of 45,000 square metres and reaches the height of 94 metres above the sea-level.
Today it looks like a whole of architectonic superimpositions realized during the centuries, between which the most important are those by Don Pedro Alvarez de Toledo, don Emanuele Fonseca and Ferdinand IV.
It dominates the whole gulf of Pozzuoli and represented, together with the fortifications of "Borgo Marinaro" (Maritime Village) in Pozzuoli (Rione Terra) and Nisida, a real impassable limit for anybody who tried to land on those shores: the most remote traces concerning the construction of the Castle of Baia date back to 1490, when, by order of the king Alfonso II d'Aragona, it was built a Castle on the ruins of the villa of the Caesars, in order to defend the Phlegraean coast from the Saracen raids.
On the 29th September 1538 the terrible eruption which in only one night gave birth to the crater of Monte Nuovo and provoked the sinking of the coastal line, in a more evident way in the tract from Lucrino to Baia, with devastating effects for all the Phlegraean Fields, caused serious damage to the Castle of Baia too.
It is thanks to the sapient and tenacious work of the viceroy don Pedro Alvarez de Toledo that the fortress of Baia was restored and enlarged, because, according to his plans, it had to become the last defensive rampart against the privateering invasions.
But the Castle of Baia was not only a military structure, it represented also a place of political and society meetings.
It gave hospitality to many personages.
In 1506 the King Ferdinand III, also called "the Catholic", came on a visit; in 1576 Giovanni of Austria met there the Venetian ambassador Girolamo Lippomano to discuss secretly delicate political questions; in February 1582 it was welcomed the duke of Ossuna.
The Castle became also centre of studies and researches.
It was for will of the viceroy don Pietro d'Aragona, approved by the secretary of the reign Julius Caesar Bonito and by the physicians Vincenzo Crisconio and Sebastiano Bartoli, that it started a large operation of revaluation of the Phlegraean thermalism and particularly of the one of Baia flegreo, resuming that tradition already known in Roman age.
But the Castle was also place of suffering and of execution of the most barbarous sentences of condemnation.
In fact, people say that some prisoners, enchained in the narrow cells which were real sepulchres, were abandoned to their fate, so that death was invocated as a real relief.
At nightfall of the 6th October 1860, for the first time, the Italian flag waved on the Castle of Baia.
Some years later, the general Garibaldi asked the Mayor of Pozzuoli to find a place where he could spend his vacations in Baia.
On 18th August 1883, fourteen war ships preceded by a yacht arrived at the port of Baia: "the Savoyard", who gave hospitality to the King of Italy, Umberto I, the Prince of Prussia, the Prince of Naples and the Minister of the Navy.
But with the unity of Italy also the defensive demands of the country changed, in fact after four centuries of continuous defensive effort, with Royal Decree of 1887,the Castle of Baia was considered no more a building of fortification of the State.
In 1927 in the Castle of Baia it installed the organization of the "Military Orphanage" which gave hospitality to the children of the dead of the "Great War", a fate which unfortunately fell also to many of them, who died during the second world conflict.
In the meantime, sheltered by the Castle of Baia, they raised first the "Naval Yards" and then the "Torpedo-factory", where the Duce Benito Mussolini went on a visit.
From the 17th October 1993, the Archaeological Superintendence, to which the building was entrusted, instituted the first nucleus of the Museum of the Phlegraean Fields with the statues of the Sacellum of the Augustales found in Miseno and the plasters of Baia.
(Gianni Picone, from "Il Castello di Baia")

Address
Baia, Via Castello 39 (location Bacoli - Naples)

How you can get there from the Hotel
From the Piazza Amedeo Station take line 2 on the subway, in the direction of Gianturco, and get off in Montesanto (fist stop); proceed by Cumana train (Naples-Torregaveta line) from terminus in Piazza Montesanto (at 100 metres from the subway Station) and get off at Baia stop; proceed by S.E.P.S.A Lucrino-Torregaveta bus and get off at Baia Castle stop: the Castle of Baia in Via Castello 39.

Archaeological Museum of Phlegraean Fields inside the Castle of Baia


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