The Caracalla Baths (Thermae Antoninianae) begun under Emperor Septimius Severus in 206 and opened in 216 by Caracalla were used for more than just bathing; today they would be called a “leisure centre”.
Here, the Romans took their baths in hot and cold pools (caldarium and frigidarium) as well as in dry or wet steam baths, and also performed gymnastics and other sports. In addition there were pleasant rooms for socializing, relaxation rooms, gardens for taking a walk, assembly halls where lectures were given and libraries where citizens could complete their education.
The facilities catered equally well for those who wanted to have their hair styled after bathing and for those who wanted to do some quick shopping. The heating system with air circulating under the floor, operated by hundreds of slaves, was unique.
Travel Tip: Although the acoustics are not perfect, a visit to the caldarium on warm summer evenings, when it is turned into an opera stage, is an unforgettable experience.
The various needs of users were met on a total area of 33,000 sq m/ 355,000 sq ft in overwhelming architecture: huge halls with massive piers and columns, domes and half-domes, barrel vaults and cross vaults accommodated up to 1,500- 1,600 people at once. The floors and walls were decorated with sumptuous marble as well as extravagant mosaics and frescoes. Nowhere else was such a structure built for the luxurious pursuit of leisure.
Baths of Caracalla Hours: Daily from 9am until 1 hour before sunset.
3d Video Model of the Baths:
Caracalla Baths – Photo Gallery: