Terme di Caracalla
Ancient Rome is well known for many things, and it’s bathhouses were no exception. Grand and plush, much business and pleasure was known to happen at a Roman bath. Today I visited Terme di Caracalla, one of the largest and best preserved of the ancient thermal complexes.
The Terme di Caracalla complex sits on 33 hecters (25 acres) south of the City Center and just a short walk from our flat. Construction on the complex was started in 216 AD by the Emperor Caracalla. It took 9000 workers 5 years of daily work to build a huge platform that measured 337 x 328 meters upon which the bath complex rested. It was inaugurated in 216 AD, but not completed until after the Emperor’s death in 217 AD. Terme di Caracalla was in use until the 6th century when the aqueducts were severed by a Goth king in an attempt to cut off Rome’s water supply.
More than just a bathhouse, the complex included two libraries, a swimming pool, warm and cold pools, several gyms and changing rooms all built on top of the platform and on two floors. It could serve 6000 people at one time and didn’t charge a fee for use. Beneath the platform and underground, was a system that used coal and wood to heat the water that was provided by a dedicated aqueduct. The bathhouse was also well known for the sculptures that were showcased there.
Today, you can wander through much of the remains of the original structure. Some areas are now covered in grass and in others you can walk above sections of the mosaic flooring. In a few of the pictures below, you can see sections of the magnificent mosaic flooring from the upper level, lying on the ground propped up against the remains of the building. Terme di Carcalla is the setting in the summer for the Rome Opera and was the site of the first Three Tenors concert in 1990.