Baiae underwater archaeological park has new route

New ‘Path of the Columns’ opens in Baiae underwater archaeological park

By Region Culture News Southern Italy Travel & Tourism

A new underwater route for divers, snorkellers and canoeists opened in Portus Julius earlier this month at the Baiae underwater archaeological park in Naples.

The underwater structures are at depths of between two and five metres. In ancient times, they were part of the large industrial and commercial district of Pozzuoli. There would have been dozens of warehouses at the port, where boats from Egypt and the East could unload.

The ‘Path of Columns’

The route, called the “Path of the Columns”, has the remains of marble and stucco columns. The path begins with a forest of walls. This is the accumulation of at least 400 years of structures built on top of each other through history. This completely changed the orientation or function of the buildings.

The overlap of buildings could also be due to Bradyseism, which is gradual uplift or descent of part of the Earth’s surface. The cause is the filling or emptying of an underground magma chamber and/or hydrothermal activity, particularly in volcanic calderas.

The lowering of the land must have forced builders to raise the ground level to prevent water from entering.

One stretch of the new path includes a sequence of large fallen columns in coloured marble. These probably made up part of the decoration of the last construction built here: a large semi-circular space facing the canal. The function of the space is unknown but was clearly imposing. The structure would have been seen by ships entering the canal.

Fifty minutes of underwater exploration

The entire route is around 50 minutes dive time and is suitable for both expert scuba divers and new snorkellers. Information on the site can be found here.

“After months of research, study and technical preparation, we are now able to offer a new visitor experience in the most typical dimension of Phlegraean archaeology, the underwater one,” said Fabio Pagano, director of the Phlegraean Fields Archaeological Park, Ansa reported.

“The new visitor route dedicated to Portus Iulius allows a dive in space and time through the places where the economic, social and human vitality that made Pozzuoli the great port of Rome and its door wide open to the world came alive,” he said.

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