(True Activist) When we think of sunken, underwater cities, what comes to mind are buildings and sculptures from ancient times that haven’t seen the light of day for thousands of years. In the case of Baiae, a town off the coast of Italy that is now completed submerged, it is technically an ancient city but has only been submerged for a few hundred years.
Baiae was perhaps the wealthiest city in all of Rome, with such figures as Julius Caesar, Nero, Pompey the Great, Marius, and Hadrian frequenting the area, with the latter even dying in the town.
It was so synonymous with luxury that many structures were made from the finest white marble shipped from within Italy, Turkey, and Greece. Beautiful mosaics and sculptures can be seen in the ruins today, and the Temple of Mercury, Temple of Venus, and Temple of Diana are attractions for scuba divers. The temples are credited as being villas built for the more famous residents.
Due to seismic and volcanic activity, the city slowly became submerged in what is now the Gulf of Naples. The town is near Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that lives in infamy for the eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD, which is why the geologic activity has so easily pushed the city underwater.
Though it’s an ancient city, whose golden days were thousands of years ago, the city was still relevant as recently as the 16th century. Baiae was ransacked during the barbarian invasions and again by Muslim raiders in the 8th century. It was vacated in 1500 due to an outbreak of malaria, after which Pedro de Toledo erected a castle.
Despite all of the grandeur and splendor, people could not continue to live in the city once it was visibly sinking, and it was eventually deserted for good. Italian photographer Antonio Busiello dove down to capture the beautiful city, much of which is obscured from view because of the heavy and healthy marine life that clings to its sides. He was able to capture some of the best photos of the ruins to date, with close-ups of sculptures and mosaic structures as well as an aerial view of the city.
“The beautiful mosaics, and the villas and temples that have reemerged or are still underwater show the opulence and wealth of this area,” Busiello said. “It was considered one of the most important Roman cities for centuries.”
While some might find the ruins creepy, especially because they’re underwater and filled with new life, Busiello basked in the history that he was capturing as he swam through the ancient city.
“Diving here is like a dive into history, looking at ancient Roman ruins underwater is something hard to describe, a beautiful experience indeed,” the photographer said.
The existence of this city is not newly-acquired knowledge; boats have been taking tourists to dive here or to see from above for many years. With technology improving, however, photographers are taking better photos of the ruins that are inaccessible to so many people.