Terme di Caracalla
Mabel Fatokun

Terme di Caracalla: Take A Dip In The Ancient Baths Of Caracalla


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  • 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi)

After the Baths of Diocletian, the Baths of Caracalla, also known as ‘Terme di Caracalla’ in italian were Rome, Italy’s second-largest public baths, or thermae. The emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla are thought to have ruled between AD 212 (or 211) and 216/217, when the baths were constructed.

They remained in service until the 530s, at which point they were abandoned and destroyed. The Baths of Caracalla, the second largest, inspired numerous buildings, including the Baths of Diocletian, the Basilica of Maxentius, Pennsylvania Station, Chicago Union Station, and Senate of Canada Building.

The Baths of Caracalla were built on a site previously owned by the horti Asiniani garden estate, developed by Gaius Asinius Pollio during Augustus’ reign. Pollio imported the Farnese Bull sculptural group for display. It would have taken more than 2,000 tonnes (2,200 short tonnes) of material to be installed every day for six years for the majority of the work to have been finished during Caracalla’s reign. A hypocaust, which heated water supplied by a special aqueduct by burning wood and coal beneath the earth, was used to heat the house. The public might use the free baths.

The baths in Rome were fully functional in the 5th century and were considered one of the seven wonders of Rome. They had a capacity of 1,600, which is believed to be the maximum number of simultaneous visitors. The baths remained in use until the 6th century, when a Christian pilgrimage site called titulus Fasciolae was established near the baths. However, during the Gothic War, the baths were abandoned.

The baths have been utilised as a quarry for building materials and decorative items to be reused in churches and palaces (such as Santa Maria in Trastevere and Pisa Cathedral) at least since the 12th century. The spa complex took up around 62 acres, or 25 hectares. The complex is 337 m by 328 m and is rectangular in shape. Much soil had to be moved during construction since portions of the surrounding hills had to be levelled or demolished in order to make room for platforms. The building required the use of many million bricks. At least 252 columns total, 16 of which were taller than 12 metres, were found in the baths.


From 1866 to 1869, restoration work in the central part of the complex revealed a Hercules torso, porphyry columns, and figure-adorned capitals. In the 1980s, thick vegetation and illegally built houses were removed. The baths were arranged northeast to southwest to use sun’s heat, with dressing rooms and palaestra symmetrically on both sides, facilitating easy access and increasing the number of potential users.

The vast baths’ ruins are now a well-liked tourist destination. There is an admission fee for the public to use the baths. Only specific areas and walkways are accessible in order to prevent further harm to the mosaic floors.


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