The Thermae of Caracalla

The Thermae of Caracalla

The Thermae of Caracalla were constructed by Emperor Caracalla, in the third century AD, and achieved its greatest splendor in the sixth century, until they became unusable after the Goths cut the aqueducts in 537 AD. To date they are one of the largest and best-preserved examples of a Roman Empire thermal spa. The complex exhibits the typical rectangular layout of imperial spas, which did not represent just a place where you can swim, play sports and take care of your health, but also a place to study and relax. On either side of main building there are a series of environments that are part of the spa: the “Calidarium”, the “Tepidarium” and the “Frigidarium” or “Natatio”. 

L ‘current entrance is not the original one, in fact, instead of accessing from the north eastern side crossing four entrances, one would enter into some smaller rooms, in the gym located in northwest. This large open area, paved with mosaics in geometric motifs, is connected via the service areas to the balisican classroom (the real heart of the entire complex) to which on the right is the Tepidarium, a small room with two side pools and niches on the walls. The Calidarium is a large room that was originally covered by a huge dome, slightly smaller than the one of the Pantheon and St. Peter’s, the particularity of this room is that the environment and the floor were heated by a series of underground ovens.

After the Calidarium, you can admire the Frigidarium, or Natatio, where there was a large swimming pool with a capacity of 1400 cubic meters. Under the thermal baths stretched the service areas placed on two floors: the lower floor were the pipes for the drainage water, channeled in a sewer, in the upper floor there were the pipes that brought water to the pools, fountains, ovens and deposits of wood. In this part of the Thermae, hundreds of slaves were given the task of operating the entire facility. The Thermae of Caracalla are famous for the particular “Mitreo” (place of worship related to Mithraism, in which religion the Persian god Mithras was worshiped), the largest of those found in Rome, developed in the underground areas of the Thermae following their closure.

Today the stone benches where the faithful settled down and the pit used for sacrifices are still present. From the sixth century the ruins of the facility were used as a quarry for quality materials (marble and metal) and for entire structures (lintels, columns, etc..) reused for the quality constructions the Duomo of Pisa and the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in fact contain architectural structures taken from the thermae. The Thermae nowadays: the Thermae of Caracalla hosted the Olympic gymnastics competitions in Rome in 1960. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century the central part of the spa has been used for outdoor concerts and plays and in particular for the summer season of Opera in Rome. In 2000 the building was released from the additional structures for the performances.

For more information on how to book entrance tickets to the  Thermae of Caracalla, archaeological sites and the major museums of Rome visit the Rome Museum web site or call us at (+39) 055-713655.
Available Entrance TicketsGuided Group Tours , Private Guided Tours.
You may also be interested in:   Tomb of Cecilia Metella – Quintili’s Villa

 

Schedule.  Open every day from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.
Closed on Monday afternoons, January 1st and Christmas.

Address  Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 52

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