Pozzuoli preserves the testimonies of a glorious past, a part of which is even submerged. The city developed in the heart of Campi Flegrei and, for this reason, is constantly subject to bradyseism and other fascinating volcanic phenomena. These features make it an area of great scientific, archaeological and historical interest.
Ancient Roman Puteoli
The ancient Roman colony of Puteoli was discovered through archaeological excavations in the Rione Terra area in the early 1990s. A meticulous exploration brought to light the city’s urban fabric dating back to around the 2nd century BC. Puteoli was fundamental to the Roman Empire. It was designed to become Rome’s port; therefore, it was the most important in the Mediterranean and one of the largest in the ancient world. Thanks to its strategic position, Puteoli was a hub from a commercial point of view and beyond. It was enriched with new urban and suburban buildings to transform into a Campanian area that would serve as an actual offshoot of Rome.
The building revolution: archaeological evidence
Emperor Augustus changed the city’s appearance. He ordered to destroy brick buildings and make them into marble. The Temple of Augustus is one of the most important testimonies of this city’s restoration that has survived till today. As the centuries went by, the town of Puteoli acquired more and more prestige thanks to elegant residential buildings. At the same time, an enormous redevelopment of the entire Campania region was taking place. Thus, the city was increasingly expanding its boundaries and its importance. The imposing Macellum, the city’s food market, dates back to the Flavian-Trajanic period. Under Emperor Hadrian, the building enthusiasm gave rise to other remarkable works. Only the barbarian invasions diminished the grandeur of Puteoli. It was utterly devastated and went back to its original size within the perimeter of the Rione Terra acropolis.
The Cathedral of St Proculus Martyr: the Temple of Augustus
The city’s principal place of worship is the Cathedral of Pozzuoli, located at the top of the Rione Terra. Its origins date back to the 2nd century BC when it was erected in honour of Emperor Augustus. Under him, the structure completely changed its appearance, becoming a magnificent marble monument in the classical Augustan style. Following the barbarian invasions and the slow decay of ancient Puteoli, the Cathedral became a place of Christian worship in the Phlegraean city. The people of Puteoli decided to dedicate it to their patron saint Proculus. Thus, the sumptuous structure changed its shape over the centuries, incorporating new buildings according to the needs of worship. Then, in the 17th century, the Cathedral was included in a significant Baroque restoration project for the city. The new stylistic layout lasted until 1964 when a violent fire devastated the magnificent building.
A multifaceted church
Today, the cathedral shows the remains of all these changes that have followed one another over time. The façade is configured with the original features of the ancient Roman temple and then leads into a more internal façade, which bears witness to the Christian period. The interior, on the other hand, features the majestic Baroque structure. Incredibly, all these aspects come together in a perfect stylistic harmony that gives the structure a great historical and architectural value.
How to reach Pozzuoli from Al Chiar di Luna
Pozzuoli is a little more than 10 km from our hotel. You can easily reach it by car or taxi (about 20 minutes).