Friday, July 22, 2011

Baia, once a theater, now a nymphaeum

Visiting the Roman baths at Baia is especially interesting, when you have just read 'Rubicon. The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic.' from Tom Holland. He describes Roman life in this village in detail; its luxury, its whores and pimps. While Horace once said: "there is nothing in the world more beautiful than the enchanting Baia", for the Romans Baia was synonymous with decadence and curruption. Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine loudly cursed Baia, "a place of perdition of the soul."

Attempts to make sense of the complex series of rooms and buildings on the archeological site at Baia started in 1954, but it is constantly being updated as new discoveries are made. One of the landmark features - next to the Temple of Mercury - is the semi-circular terrace of the seaward side.

Originally designed as a theater, it is clear from the side walls on the hemicycle and a series of rooms which were carved into the surrounding walls early shows that, at some point, the building was converted into a nymphaeum for water sports and mime shows. The orchestra pit still consists a circular pool with tank.
More pictures of the Baths of Baia you can find here!

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