baths of caracalla

Ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla (Italian: Terme di Caracalla; Latin: Thermae Antoninianae) are famous ancient Roman public baths, constructed between 211 and 224 by the emperors Caracalla, Heliogabalus, and Severus Alexander. The site located along the Appian Way in Rome. Considered one of the most luxurious thermal baths, it accommodated about 1600 visitors and was used up until the 6th century. Also, it is one of the most impressive archeological constructions of the Imperial epoch.

History

Most of the Roman population lived in overcrowded apartment buildings without water or sanitary facilities, so the baths were the solution of the problem. Moreover, they served as a place for socialization.

Baths of Caracalla contain huge columns, mosaics of glass and marble on the walls, painted stuccos and different statues with impressive sizes. The water system goes from the main aqueduct, the Aqua Antoniana. However, the thermal baths were reconstructed several times and finally closed in 537 A.D.

Baths of Caracalla

There were three large bathing rooms: the frigidarium – a cold pool, the tepidarium – a lukewarm pool, and the calidarium – a hot pool

Bathers could freely move from one room to another because the size of the thermae was huge and even today the ruins are massive. The walls and floor of the tepidarium and calidarium were heated by a special system – the hypocaust. Since the floor was raised and there was a space left between the walls, the hot air was circulating through a furnace. The frigidarium was located in the middle of the construction and surrounded by two zones – Palaestra. These zones were gymnastic areas, where games and competitions were held. Additionally, there was an Olympic size pool – the Natatio, which served for recreational swimming activities.Moreover, there were two libraries and beautiful gardens.

Decoration

Baths of Caracalla are well preserved and contain many colorful mosaics, where some mosaic floors were removed and now you can find them in different museums all around the world. Some of them can be seen nowadays in the Vatican Museums.

The decor consisted of the walls covered with slabs of marble, while the upper register was covered with stucco. Interestingly, all the floors contained colorful mosaics, maritime fifures, like sea horses or fish. There were mostly mosaics made from Egyptian grey granite from, Numidian yellow marble, green-veined marble from Carystus, and green or purple poryphy from Egypt and Sparta.

Baths of Caracalla

Septimius Severus issued 13 thousand of prisoners of war from his campaigns in Spain to align the ground of the Caracalla Baths

There are huge sculptures, such as the one of Hercules with 10ft 6in in tall, found in the 16th century.

Baths of Caracalla

During the Renaissance epoch, Donato Bramante and Andrea Palladio used the Baths of Caracalla as an inspiration for grand structures

Teatro dell’ Opera

During the summer time, the Baths of Caracalla serve as an open-air theater called “Teatro dell’Opera” with performances of ballet and opera. The examples of performances are “Aida” by Giuseppe Verdi and “Carmen” by Georges Bizet.

Baths of Caracalla

Useful Information

How to Get

  • Address: Rome,  Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 52
  • Metro: Line B fermata Circo Massimo
  • Bus: 760, 628, and 180 (which continues to the Appian Way)

Working hours

  • Monday to Friday from 9 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5 pm
  • Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm

Tickets

  • Full price: 8 euro
  • Reduced: 4 euro
  • Online reservation fee: 2 euro
  • Online reservation is here
  • Phone: +39 06 399 67 700  – no admission for the reservation
  • EU and non-EU citizens under 18 are free of admission on the first Sunday of the month
  • The site is included in the Roma Pass circuit
  • There is a bookshop at the entrance, where you can buy an audio guide

The public baths of Caracalla is one of the most ancient archeological constructions of Rome with massive sizes and impressive history. It would be a great choice to visit this site during your Roman holidays.

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Author: Yekaterina Zusmann

Yekaterina Zusmann
For the last five years I live in Rome, Italy. Recently, I've graduated from the American university of John Cabot with major in communication and minor in entrepreneurship. I have a passion for writing, traveling, and exploring new things.

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