Baths of CaracallaMay 11, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C
Waited about 30 minutes for bus #160 to take us south past the forum to the Baths of Caracalla. Tall ruins similar to the forum brought to life fairly well by the virtual headsets. Suggest sharing one though as you don't use it all the time. Worth the visit and time.
Roman's largest public baths (thermae) were constructed from 212AD to 216AD during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, also called Caracalla after the tunic he wore. The baths remained operational for more than 300 years during a period when the city had over 50 public baths that were used in lieu of private bathrooms. The baths served a social function as well as allowing citizens to wash away the dust. Bathing was a ritual process beginning with a hot bath in the caldarium, then a luke-warm bath in the tepidarium, a cold bath in the frigidarium and finally a relaxing swim in the natatio or open air swimming pool followed by a massage or rubdown with scented cloths.
The water was provided by the Aqua Marcia aqueduct which brought water to the complex reservoirs, it was only when the water supply was destroyed by the Goths that the baths ceased to operate. On the lower level a radiant heating system was used to heat the water by furnaces and tubes. Slaves would spend their time confined to the lower level, heaving the wood into the furnaces. The complex covered 27 acres and could accommodate 1600 people who came to use the many facilities it provided like the gymnasiums, library, stores, landscaped gardens, restaurant and even brothel.
The baths had marble seating, mosaics on the walls and floors, fountains, marble and bronze statues and the walls were covered with polychrome marble and tiled mosaics. Today only the ruins remain as the baths suffered from marauding Goths, earthquakes and pieces of the structure were taken to be used in other Roman buildings. However visitors can still get an idea of the scale and opulence of the baths from the towering red brick walls, grand arches, remaining mosaic floors and granite columns.