Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla (Latin: Thermae Antoninianae ) are ancient baths in Rome. They include not only the Baths of Diocletian and the Baths of Trajan to the largest thermal baths of Rome.

History of spas

The Baths of Caracalla were probably begun in 206 under Septimius Severus and 216 completed under Emperor Caracalla. They were in the XII. regional Piscino Publica, a suburb of Rome, which was decorated especially at this time with magnificent public buildings. Other additions, such as porticos and decorations, have been carried out under the emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus, so that the plant 235 AD was only really completed. Since the plant on the outskirts of Rome was located in the rather poor neighborhood, it can be assumed that it was built to increase the popularity of the emperor at the plebs. Together with the Baths of Diocletian, they belonged to the public and free admission bathing palaces.

Under Emperor Aurelian came after a fire to renovations. Diocletian had the aqueduct which carried the name Forma Iova and the system with water supplied to expand. Finally, the Emperor Constantine had an apse in the caldarium install, which is attested by an inscription. From literary sources it is known that the baths were still in the 5th century in operation. Polemius Silvius it was one of the seven wonders of Rome.

However, 537 the Goths destroyed the aqueduct Aqua Marcia, what the bathing ended. In the year 847 there was some damage due to an earthquake, then translated rain, heat and frost to the buildings. At least since the 12th century served the baths as a quarry.

In the 16th century, the Farnese family, in particular the Pope Paul III had. Farnese, a large part of the marbled interior sculptures remove in order to embellish the Farnese Palace and St. Peter. In 1824, systematic excavations began under Count Girolamo Egidio di Velo, who examined the central building mainly and found the mosaic with the athletes.

Today, the opera Rome organized open-air opera performances here.


The plant measured about 337 × 328 m. The original site on which are the baths, was very uneven. For the construction of the Baths therefore has a huge platform had to be created to bridge the differences in height between the Aventine Hill on the one side and the Camemae valley on the other side. For three terraces have been created. There towards the valley therefore massive brick arches, the Aventine towards contrast walls which support the platform against the Aventine Hill. Among the brick arches adjoining rooms have been created. The water supply was a branch of the Aqua Marcia secured by the Aqua Nova Antoniniana, ,.

The main building in the center of the complex is 214 × 110 m in size. On the southern long side protrudes the round caldarium and on the short sides each smaller exedrae.

The main entrances to the actual Baths are in the north and lead to natatio, a large swimming pool. The room is 50 × 22 m tall and was once over 20 m high. The northern facade was articulated by monumental granite columns into three parts. In each of these three segments there are six slots, three three were in the lower part of the wall at the top. This was- certainly statues. In the lower niches are still visible water pipes that fed the basin with water.

Left and right are the changing rooms ( Apodyterium ). They are decorated with simple geometric black-and- white mosaics. In each case, a Palaestra is located on the short side of the baths, which can be reached directly from the changing rooms. They are still decorated with simple, yet multicolored geometric mosaics. Red, green, and two bright tones alternate here. The stones used are serpentine and Giallo antico. In his way this mosaic is unique. There is one Exedra On the sides of the palaestra. These were each decorated with a polychrome mosaics athletes. In an upper floor of the palaestrae was once figurative black and white mosaics have been found. The once about 300 m long mosaic shows Nereids, Tritons, dolphins and other marine life. The mosaic is framed by a pattern showing each pair of dolphins.

In the center of the complex is the frigidarium ( cold bath ). It is a 58 × 24 m large hall, which was once spanned by three cross vaults. The vaults rested again on eight columns of gray, Egyptian granite, which lined the walls. The floor was covered with marble slabs in Opus sectile. The walls had a marble base, from which, however, only a few remnants remain. Again, there were niches for statues, which were perhaps decorated with mosaics. To frigidarium there are four rooms in which it was likely to saunas ( Sudatorium ).

The caldarium was topped by a 35.08 m wide dome light Tonhohlkörpern, the largest dome of its kind in the world at that time. So far has been built no larger dome of this type. She rested on eight pilasters been substantiated. The floor of the caldarium was once covered with marble and the walls between the pillars there were glazed window.

In addition to several swimming pools and gardens housed the spa gym and meeting rooms, libraries and various service businesses such as barber shops. The thermal baths could accommodate up to 2000 bathers. The water supply and drainage were solved as technically perfect. Also the heating system of the plant ( lat. hypocaust ) was perfect sophisticated: About clay pipes hot air was passed in all the rooms and also served as floor heating the pool. This air was created under the system: There more than a hundred slaves worked on huge wood-fired ovens.


Even the ancient writers described the plant as Eximias et magnificentissimas. The author of the Life of Caracalla in the Historia Augusta ( Aelius Spartianus ) mentions especially the Warmbadraum ( in the text referred to as the cella solaris, meaning the caldarium ), the dome of which gained the admiration of contemporary architects.

The bathroom was richly decorated with marble, mosaics and statues. The plant had at least 252 columns. Sixteen of them were higher than twelve meters. It has been calculated that in the spas were at least 120 statues. You ware placed in the niches that existed in the walls of nearly all rooms. Likewise, the rich architectural decorations must have been, but also the most was found only in fragments. These include figurative capitals and friezes decorated. There are various types of marble have been used as such by the Greek island of Marmara, but also Parian, thasicher and lunesicher marble. In addition, other types of stone such as granite, porphyry or serpentine were used. From the Baths of Caracalla, most sculptures of all spas are ever received, although certainly landed a large part of the former facilities in lime kilns. Probably from the eastern Palaestra comes the Farnese Bull. The statue group from a single block was around 1546/47 during excavations of Pope Paul III. discovered. It shows the punishment of Dirce. Another important statue dates from the frigidarium, shows the resting Hercules.


  • The motorcycle chase in the movie Dealer Connection - The road of heroin Enzo G. Castellari director in 1977 turned into the spa.