Baths of Caracalla in Rome

Written by on 21. September 2020 in Rome Sights with 0 Comments

Baths of Caracalla. The Caracalla thermal baths are one of the places that you should definitely visit to really understand the immense size and daily life of ancient Rome. Of course, the forums (both the Roman Forum and the Fori Imperiali, the Imperial Forums) and the Colosseum also fulfill this function.

The Caracalla thermal baths, however, represent something special. Because more than any other similar archaeological site, they allow us to understand the importance and significance of the baths during Imperial Rome.

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Caracalla thermal baths in Rome: history, directions, prices and opening times

History of the Caracalla thermal baths in Rome

The history of the Caracalla thermal baths (in Italian Terme di Caracalla) is several centuries old. Constructions began on the initiative of Emperor Caracalla, who gave them their name, between 212 and 216 AD. They were in operation until 537, well over three decades. In the meantime, they have undergone several restorations. The arrival of the Goths and the severing of the aqueducts were ultimately responsible for abandonning the public baths. Otherwise, the thermal bath operation would probably have gone on for a while, because the baths were extremely popular with the Romans. Why, you’ll find out soon.

After the baths had been closed, the site layed idle for a while before it was later used for purposes other than residential, cemetery and agricultural use. Until the Middle Ages, the damage to the spa complax was relatively limited. Then, however, it became a habit to dismantle ancient buildings in order to reuse valuable materials such as marble, columns and capitals in contemporary buildings. Some of the materials that come from the Baths of Caracalla have been used, for example, to build the Cathedral of Pisa and the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome.

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The Caracalla thermal baths in Rome: a wellness oasis for body, mind and soul

In spite of everything, the Baths of Caracalla, or rather the Thermae Antonianae, are still one of the largest and most complex thermal baths in ancient Rome that have remained from antiquity – together with the Baths of Diocletian and the Baths of Trajan. They are in excellent condition. In order to grasp the full extent of their importance, we must immerse ourselves in the life of ancient Rome and ask ourselves why the ancient Romans accorded so much importance to the baths.

When you think of swimming pools today, you think primarily of fun and games, right? Back then, hygiene alone was a very important aspect. After all, it was at a time when most of the houses were without sanitary facilities and running water. Even more, the thermal baths were not just a bathing establishment for the Romans. They were also a place where you could take care of yourself, body, mind and soul, in 360 degrees.

Baths are not just baths…

When you visit the Caracalla thermal baths in Rome, you will probably notice that in addition to the places that can be described as purely thermal, such as the calidarium (the heated bath, which was then crowned by a 35.08 m wide dome made of light clay hollow bodies and thus the largest dome in this construction was in antiquity), the tepidarium (a warming room), the frigidarium (the cold pool) and the Natatio (the large swimming pool), also large gardens and two libraries. Maybe some will be surprised, but that was normal.

The people went to the spa to take care of the body and mind. The “aquatic” part was only one of the aspects. Here people also came to do gymnastics, walking, reading and studying. The best thing about it was that this center of well-being was made accessible not only to the wealthy upper class, but to everyone. Because admission was almost always free for everyone!

Experience the Caracalla thermal baths in Rome in 3D!

Today we only see the remains of bricks, ancient walls and some traces of the floor and the elaborate decoration. However, the sources have well documented the appearance of these places. They give a good insight into what the thermal baths should have looked like 2000 years ago. But wouldn’t it be much nicer to walk through colored glass mosaics and admire the grand statues and all the ancient decorations in all their grandeur?

But there is a way to give your imagination a boost and fully immerse yourself in the former glory of the Caracalla thermal baths in Rome. Modern technology makes it possible and lets you experience the Caracalla thermal baths in a realistic way. Thanks to a new Virtual Reality project by the Cultural Office, you can dive into a virtual reality equipped with a smartphone and 3D glasses that will take you back almost two thousand years.

In the digital reconstructions, the real images of some statues and decorations of the thermal bath were inserted, which are now exhibited in various places and museums, such as the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, the Royal Palace of Caserta or Piazza Farnese. Overall, the virtual tour of the Terme di Caracalla is divided into ten stages. They cover the different rooms and areas of the Caracalla Therme complex. They reveal the individual functions of the bathrooms and give a complete picture of the monument at the time of operation. The tour with the virtual video guide costs 7 euros, reservation is recommended (2 euros). Information on booking is available at +39.0639967700. The telephone service is active from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or at www.coopculture.it.

Baths of Caracalla in Rome: tickets and entrance fees

Entry to the Caracalla thermal baths in Rome costs 8 or 4 euros for full and discounted tickets. Children and adolescents up to the age of 18 do not pay admission. On some days you can even visit the thermal baths completely free of charge. Every first Sunday of the month from October to March, admission to all state museums in Rome is free. They also include the Caracalla thermal baths.

You can also book the tickets in advance on the Internet and thus elegantly avoid the queue at the ticket counter. However, I recommend booking a tour (virtual or classic with a guide) to take a look behind the scenes of the old walls.

Opening times of the Caracalla thermal baths in Rome

The area opens at 9 a.m. and has different closing times throughout the year. As with many other open air attractions, these vary depending on the time of sunset. In winter the thermal baths close at 4:00 p.m. In summer they are much longer, i.e. open until around 7:00 p.m.

When it comes to accessibility, it is interesting to know that the place has no special architectural barriers and is easily accessible. There is even a reserved parking space for the disabled people (with ID).

How to get to the Baths of Caracalla in Rome

The Caracalla thermal baths are located in Via delle Terme di Caracalla and are easily accessible by public transport. You can reach them with the Metro line B via the Circo Massimo stop or the bus lines 760 and 628.

You can combine a visit to the Caracalla thermal baths in Rome with the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus (here too there is a 3d experience) or a visit to the Palatine Hill, one of the seven founding hills of Rome, with its famous keyhole and the beautiful orange garden. I am sure you will love it!

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