It was known as one of the largest and most impressive baths built in ancient Rome.
Nowadays, all that remains is a series of brick walls and largely collapsed vaults, but the remnants of the Baths of Caracalla are still a marvelling sight to see.
The History of the Baths of Caracalla
Back in ancient Roman times, bathing was not seen as a private activity like it is today. Instead, it was a social activity, with massive bathing facilities open to the public to come and bath while gossiping with their friends and neighbours.
Extravagant baths were set up in large cities, known commonly as thermals, with the Baths of Caracalla, also known as Thermae Antoninianae, being a major one in ancient times. It sat on approximately 27 acres, construction in 206 AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus, who named the baths after his beloved son Caracalla. The entire construction lasted many years, with some historians believing it finished in 216 AD, where others believe it was well into 235 AD.
About the Baths of Caracalla
It was said that Caracalla as an emperor was not a warm character. He was said to be cruel, unjust, and cold to his people, even lacking loyalty to his family. Emperor Septimius Severus decided to create these baths in Caracalla’s name in hopes to form a warmer reputation on his son before his reign came to be. However, despite the many documentations supporting Caracalla’s darker actions, he did sway the public’s opinion to a degree. Securing favour by increasing soldiers’ pay, introducing free citizenship to all Romans, and extending these baths to all social classes.
The Size of the Baths
The Baths of Caracalla were built to hold a massive amount of people, roughly holding up to 1,600 bathers at a time, working out to accommodating around 8,000 people a day. In the thermae, there were four entryways to enter, each featuring marble walls with stunning mosaics and bronze doors. The rooms were over ten feet tall, with a total of 252 columns lining the interior, marble floors, and a ceiling made of glass.
The Baths’ Rooms
In the historic Baths of Caracalla, there were three rooms for bathing. The first was named the frigidarium, which was the cold bath similar to a pool. Next was the tepidarium, which was the warm bath. The final bathing room was the caldarium, which was the hottest, similar to a sauna in heat. All the floors in the baths were heated, with approximately 50 furnaces burning ten tons of wood per day.