Baths of Caracalla

Built by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, more commonly known as Emperor Caracalla, between the years 212 and 216 AD, the Baths of Caracalla were one of the greatest and most spectacular thermal complexes in ancient times. Although they were subsequently surpassed in size by the Baths of Diocletian, these were not capable of matching their splendour. Romans visited the baths regularly to maintain hygiene, exercise, visit the library, walk through the gardens or worship the god Mithras and other pagan divinities at the temple within the vast precinct that held the baths.

After remaining in operation for more than three hundred years, the baths were closed by necessity in the year 537, when the aqueducts that supplied water to the city were destroyed by the barbarians. The sculptures and valuable materials that decorated the baths were plundered and subsequently, in the year 847, an earthquake shook the building and destroyed part of it. Today, only the brick walls and large collapsed vaults remain. However, the ruins still give us a sense of this architectural wonder, including how the Romans created effective water supply and drainage systems, and used large wood-fired ovens to heat the water, floors and walls of the baths.


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