Posts Tagged ‘baths of caracalla’

The Baths of Caracalla are the remains of what was once one of the grandest and most elaborate bath complexes in Italy. It dates from the early third century AD and was inaugurated in 217 by Caracalla. One of the largest bathing complexes ever built, Caracalla’s baths could fit up to 1500 bathers at any time, getting through an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 cubic meters of fresh water a day, which was brought in from the hills near Subiaco via a special branch of the Aqua Marcia aqueduct.

Remains of the many different rooms are still visible, including the apodyteria (changing room), the frigidarium (the cold room), the tepidarium (warm room) and the caldarium (the hot, steamy room). There was also an open air natatio (swimming pool). Heating was provided by ahypocaust – an underwater heating system fuelled by over fifty wood-burning furnacesNot just a bathing complex, the baths played a vital role in the social life of the capital and included gardens, two separate palastrae(gyms) for exercise or for boxing or wrestling matches.

For those of a more intellectual bent, the building also housed a public library with one room for Greek texts and another for Latin. Entrance to the baths was free, but plenty of local business would have been provided by the numerous shops, bars and brothels which were built nearby. In their heyday, the baths were extravagantly decorated by mosaics and painted statues, althogh only a few remnants of these are still visible today.

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