Sunday, April 19, 2020


Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 52

212/216 AD for Caracalla (211/217)

The baths were known as Thermae Antoninianae from the real name of the emperor Caracalla, which was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
He was nicknamed Caracalla from the name of the Gallic hooded robe he used to dress. He was in fact born in Gaul, in the city of Lugdunum, today Lyon

Tha baths were dedicated in the year 216 but were completed by Elagabalus (218/222) and Alexander Severus (222/235), a great lover of athletics, with the external enclosure
The baths were restored by Aurelian (270/275)

The complex remained in operation until the year 537 (about 300 years!) when the Goths of Vitige cut the acqueduct of the Aqua Antoniniana Iovia derived from the Aqua Marcia and passing on the Arch of Drusus

Since 1938 the baths were used for summer performances of operas and here sang for the first time ever in 1990 the three tenors Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo

“The water flow of the aqueduct service of the Baths of Caracalla could have been up to 20,000 m³ (5,283,500 gallons) per day, enough for a modern city of 70,000 inhabitants; at least 3,500 m (11,500 feet) of lead piping, 550 tons (606 tons) heavy, distributing water in different rooms; 49 ovens warmed the rooms up, consuming no less than 10 tons (11 tons) of wood a day, which required warehouses for 2,000 tons (2,200 tons), of supply for 7 months. The number of users of 1600, also provided by an ancient source, refers only to one shift lasting 2 hours, which allows to evaluate between 6500 and 8000 the number of swimmers who used the complete cycle of the baths, and about 10,000 people daily. On this basis it is possible to calculate the number of people using daily the whole system of the Rome public and private baths, which could reach 150,000 people, a figure roughly equivalent to that of those entitled to free wheat and representing therefore a real ‘baths culture’ that, in this size, knows no parallel in any period of history” (Filippo Coarelli)

337 x 328 m (1,105 x 1,076 feet) but with the projection of the square the larger side would have been 400 m (1,312 feet)


STADIUM that hid the huge tanks (64 rooms) capable of 80,000 liters (21,100 gallons)


FRIGIDARIUM, TEPIDARIUM and round CALDARIUM WITH dome of 34 m (112 feet) in diameter

CENTRAL BASILICA 58 x 24 m (190 x 79 feet)

NATATIO (swimming pool) with no ceiling

Vast underground areas on two levels: the upper for services, the lower for drainage

Near the large exedra of northwest was installed the largest MITHRAIC TEMPLE ever found in Rome, which retains the white mosaic floor with black bands

Among the works of art found here:

Taurus, Flora and the Hercules Farnese in Naples

The tanks of the fountains on Piazza Farnese

The mosaic with athletes at the Vatican Museums
One of the four pillars of the natatio is in Piazza S. Trinita in Florence

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