Incredible Photographs Reveal Sunken City That Was Once The Playground Of Ancient Rome's Rich And Famous


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Scientists recently discovered that the city of Baiae’s villas were constructed using the finest white marble shipped from quarries across Italy, Turkey, and Greece. ©Antonio Busiello

The city of Baiae was once a buzzing hive of Roman high-culture, filled with decadence, wine, and luxury. Over 1,700 years later since it enjoyed its happiest days, the grand city has been lost to the forces of nature and now lies deep below the waves. However, it has still managed to retain its beauty.

These stunning photographs by Italian photographer Antonio Busiello provide a rare glimpse of the once prosperous city.


Towards the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire, Baiae was a popular resort for the mega-rich, where emperors and elites came to lap up the Mediterranean sun and splash their wealth.

The beautiful town featured cobbled streets, mosaics, statues, spas, and even the luxurious villas of Julius Caesar and Emperor Nero. It was also home to numerous grand temples dedicated to Mercury, Venus, and Diana. After lying untouched for centuries, the ruins have since become a haven for marine life.

Divers explore a stunning mosaic perhaps once the floor to a grand villa. ©Antonio Busiello

As a testament to their wealth, scientists recently discovered that Baiae’s villas were constructed using the finest white marble shipped from quarries across Italy, Turkey, and Greece.

The sunken city lies deep within the Gulf of Naples, a beautiful 15-kilometer-wide (9.3-mile-wide) gulf off the south-western coast of Italy. The city became submerged in the bay following centuries of seismic activity and volcanic activity. After all, the town lay near to Mount Vesuvius, the infamous volcano that destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 CE with one of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in European history. This volcanic activity, however, did provide the city with geothermal energy to heat its spa waters and baths.


In 2014, there was heavy flooding south of Naples, causing a series of landslides to expose portions of the old Roman walls of Baiae. However, on the whole, the city’s ruins remain elusive and mysterious.

Marine archeologists also recently discovered a long-lost Roman city in the waters of northeast Tunisia, a short hop across the Mediterranean sea. On their diving expeditions, the team came across numerous Roman monuments, the ruins of structures, and around 100 tanks of garum – a fermented fish sauce known as “Rome’s ketchup”. Much like Baiae, this town was also sacked by forces of nature and seismic activity.

Although now taken over by the sea, the beauty and grandiosity of the city remains. ©Antonio Busiello


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  • marine archaeology