Baths of Caracalla

"The Baths of Caracalla are one of the largest and best preserved thermal complexes of antiquity. Because of their remarkable height, exceeding 30 meters in many parts, the extensive remains of the Baths (or thermae) provide a glimpse of the magnificence of the thermal complex"1.

The Baths were probably commissioned by emperor Septimius Severus - whose physician was Claudius Galen - and inaugurated in AD 216 under the reign of his son Caracalla2.

"The ritual of the baths traditionally consisted in a sauna, a hot bath, a cold bath and a massage. For men and women, they were held either in different rooms or at different hours. Later on, to the above, the performance of rigorous physical exercises, which included gymnastics, wrestling and playing ball, was added"3.

To the hygienic and social ones, also a medical function was related to the baths: "The warm waters of the Tepidarium relax the muscles and joints, and improve the circulation, digestion and appetite. The hot waters of the Caldarium fully open the capillaries and provoke a good sweat. A final quick dip in the Frigidarium closes the pores, which protects the organism from incoming drafts and chills"4.

The entrance to the Baths is in Piazzale Numa Pompilio. More practical informations in the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma official website.

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  • Photos by Luca Borghi ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#| (october 2008)

Bibliography

- C.Garbagna (ed.), The Baths of Caracalla Guide, Electa, Milan 2008, pp. 79.



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