The ruins of the Baths of Caracalla are pleasantly peaceful today, but were anything but tranquil in their heyday...
The high-vaulted ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, surrounded by trees and grass, are pleasantly peaceful today, but were anything but tranquil in their heyday, when up to 1,600 Romans could sweat it out in the baths and gyms. You can get some idea of the original splendour of the baths – built between AD 213 and 216 – from the fragments of mosaic and statuary littering the grounds, although the more impressive finds are in the Vatican Museums and the Museo Archeologico in Naples. The two cavernous rooms down the sides were the gymnasia, where Romans engaged in strenuous sports like toss-the-beanbag. There was also a large open-air natatio (pool) for lap-swimming. After exercising, they cleansed themselves in saunas and a series of baths of varying temperatures. The baths were usually open from noon until sunset and were social centres where people came to relax after work. The complex also contained a library, a garden, shops and stalls. Underneath it all were 9.5km (six miles) of tunnels, where slaves scurried about, treading the giant wheels that pumped clean water up to bathers and tending to huge braziers that heated the chambers from below the tiles and through pipes in the walls. Caracalla’s baths were in use for more than 300 years: the fun dried up in 537 when the Visigoths sacked Rome and severed the city’s aqueducts.
|Venue name:||Terme di Caracalla|
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Roma RM
|Opening hours:||9am-2pm Mon; 9am-sunset Tue-Sun.|
|Transport:||Metro Circo Massimo|