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The Archaeological Park of Cumae

Cumae is a very ancient Greek colony situated close to the coast of Campania, a few kilometres from Naples. In the past, it became an integral part of the Roman Empire and, later, was invaded by various populations. Nowadays, the Archaeological Park of Cumae is a direct testimony of a fascinating history rooted in the origin of European civilisation, where myth and history merge in a suggestive union..

Cumae

Cumae was the oldest known Greek colony and the furthest from the motherland. It was soon conquered by the Campani and then by the Romans. The latter saw the city as a faithful ally and, during the civil war, turned it into the stronghold of Emperor Octavian. Having become a Roman municipality around 200 BC, Cumae managed to resist the barbarian incursions throughout history, only to succumb under the Byzantines and the Saracen raids, after which it began to lie in a state of abandonment. Today, what remains of the beautiful Greek city and the former Roman colony can be found in its Archaeological Park.

The Archaeological Park of Cumae

Following extensive excavation work in this area of Campi Flegrei, Cumae was brought back to life. In 1927, the Archaeological Park of Cumae was created. The first finds were the main buildings of the ancient acropolis. Numerous subsequent excavations allowed us to significantly expand our knowledge of the site and bring to light its actual expansion, now estimated at 50 hectares.

The Acropolis

In the park, it is now possible to visit the acropolis, which consists of two areas containing the remains of the buildings and other structures of the old city. On the hill’s lower slopes is the famous Cave of the Sybil, an authentic jewel of this site still shrouded in mystery, myth and legend. Visitors will also find the Forum, the Forum Baths, the Monumental Necropolis, the Roman Crypt, and many other ruins. Moreover, on the upper part of the rock, visitors can find the Byzantine Tower, the Temple of Jupiter (Upper Terrace) and the Temple of Apollo (Lower Terrace). According to the legend, the latter was built by the great sculptor and architect Daedalus, a character from Greek mythology.

The myth of Sybil’s Cave

The Cave of the Sybil is a gallery about 5 metres high and 130 metres long, consisting of several branches opening on both sides. Some are a dead end, presumably to provide light and air. Others are supposed to have been used in Roman times as cisterns, then as a place of defence and finally as burial. However, what most charms about the cave is its myth. According to legend, the Cumaean Sibyl’s voice accompanied Aeneas through this place. Thus, the oracle legend and the mystery surrounding the functionality of this structure make it a fascinating and suggestive location. Not surprisingly, it is a destination of great tourist interest.

The Byzantine Tower, a magical view

The Byzantine Tower is a fortification resulting from the reconstruction carried out during Byzantine domination of the city. It locates on the top of the acropolis. Continuing upwards, visitors come to a breathtaking viewpoint: on one side, they view the Gulf, while on the other, they can see the whole flat part of the city. Finally, visitors can stop on the panoramic terrace of the Belvedere built on ancient Roman ruins beyond the Tower. The space offers a moment of rest and, at the same time, a privileged observation point: from here, visitors can behold Ischia, Procida, the landscape south of Cumae, Miseno and Lake Fusaro.

The two temples

Walking along the ancient Via Sacra, there are two terraces where the two temples discovered by the excavations stand. The Lower Terrace, known as the Temple of Apollo, is a complex of sacred buildings that constitute an actual sanctuary. Its construction followed the structure of Greek sanctuaries and was composed of the main temple, a Greek cistern and other small tanks for rituals. The Temple of Apollo was demolished and rebuilt with Roman architectural elements in the Augustan age. The name comes from discovering an altar dedicated to the god Apollo. Then, going up the whole hill and reaching the top of the acropolis, visitors find the Temple of Jupiter. Both structures date back to the 6th century B.C., underwent Roman renovations and were transformed into churches following the spread of Christianity.

The Forum and the Thermal Baths

The Forum is the beating heart of the ancient city. It is a large rectangular paved square, dotted with antique shops and public buildings, where the city’s main commercial and political activities were. Presumably, the Forum that we see today dates back to a Roman construction that was on the same site as the Greek agora. To the north of the square are the Forum Thermal Baths. The central location suggests the old public use of the service.

How to reach Cumae from Al Chiar di Luna

The beautiful Cumae is less than 10 km from our hotel. You can reach it in about 15 minutes by car or taxi.

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