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Visiting the Baths of Caracalla in Rome?

The Baths of Caracalla are one of the largest and best preserved ancient thermal complexes. They were built in the southern part of the city, at the foot of Aventino, and have a rectangular plan, typical of the great imperial baths.

Terme di Caracalla em Roma (Source: Flick)
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Visiting the Baths of Caracalla in Rome?

Thermae Antoninianae, better known as the Baths of Caracalla, were built between 212 and 217 by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, known as Caracalla (because of the Gallic tunic he used to wear). The Baths of Caracalla, one of the largest and best preserved thermal complexes of antiquity, were built in the southern part of the city, at the foot of Aventino and have a rectangular plan, typical of the great imperial thermals.  Lets go to read our post: Visiting the Baths of Caracalla in Rome? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”

1) Visiting the Baths of Caracalla in Rome? LEARN ITS HISTORY

In the reproduction of a day of the ancient Romans, it is necessary to preserve a space for body care and the relationships that exist within the Baths. The places were not only a place for bathing, playing sports and body care, but also a place for walking and studying. Read also What are the main tourist monuments in Rome?

Its Construction

In fact, with the empire, monarchs, in order to keep the Roman people distracted and satisfied, started to build imposing and monumental public baths, a vital center of community life for everyone in the population. Baths of Caracalla are one of the rare cases in which it is possible to reconstruct, even partially, the initial decorative scheme. The story tells of huge columns and floors of colorful Oriental marble, glass mosaics, marble on the walls, painted stucco and hundreds of colossal statues and groups, both in the niches of the rooms’ walls, as well as in the most important halls and gardens.

These baths could serve a significant number of people and display a large number of works of art, many of which are still visible. For the water supply, an aqueduct from acqua Marcia, acqua nova Antoniniana, was created. Restored several times, the thermal plant stopped operating in AD 537. They were the largest imperial baths in Rome, until Diocletian did not build them anymore, and in the 5th century they were defined as one of the seven wonders of Rome.

2) Visiting the Baths of Caracalla in Rome? ITS ATTRACTIONS

Description of Environments. Baths of Caracalla has a plant similar to the Baths of Trajan. On both sides of the main building, there are a series of rooms arranged symmetrically, divided by rooms arranged on the central axis, comprising the Caldarium, a hot water bath, the Tepidarium, a basilical bath and the large cold water pool (Natatio), where the baths ended. You entered through accesses near the pool, and from there you could go to the locker room (Apodyterium), then you could go to a large gym, connected with a series of rooms with bathtubs.

You would then arrive at the large circular room at the Caldarium, a dome-shaped roof. There were large windows that allowed the sun to warm the room from late morning until sunset. The center had a circular tank, while smaller ones were between the pillars that supported the dome. The same path went to the hot water tank, made from the opposite half of the building, however, they remained identical.

Neglect

In the following centuries, the area went through periods of neglect and partial reoccupation, occupied by the cemetery and even to house agricultural areas. Always in operation, the exploration of the ruins of a quarry of valuable materials for reuse in buildings remained. In the early years of the 20th century, exploration was carried out around the perimeter and in part of the underground, these excavations led to the discovery of the rooms, including the great western portico, the Library and, underground, the Miter and, with recent studies , also identified a water mill. Also read What to visit near Rome? The best round trips from Rome.

The Baths Underground

The undergrounds of the Baths of Caracalla are a great feat of engineering and a masterpiece of Roman architecture, which consists of a series of rooms for services, which formed a true underground road network. In one of these environments, Rome’s largest Miter (amphitheater) was also discovered.

The Five Rooms…

It refers to the period immediately after the construction of the spa and consists of five rooms that communicate with the upper floor through a staircase accessible from the outside, through a small door. Beyond the marble threshold, there is the vestibule area and other services, among which, presumably, is the bull slaughterhouse; arriving at the main hall, there is the sacred crypt, supported by brick pillars, along the sides of two high benches, with the plane inclined to the wall, where the faithful sat during the ceremonies. On the floor, which still maintains its original cover of the white mosaic with black bands, a large clay vase is buried, closed by a marble ring, probably used for purification rituals.

During the restoration work in the underground, two large granite bowls were found, which are now in Piazza Farnese (Farnese Square). Only in the Renaissance the most valuable discoveries begin to be transcribed, while the ruins, soon after, were the object of studies and research by the great architects of the time. Polychrome mosaic floors have recently been discovered. A long renovation in November 2012 allowed Mitreo to reopen.

Useful informations

Below are useful information for visiting the Baths in Rome.

Operation (Days and Hours)

Open every day, opening hours are at 9:00 am.

  • From the last Sunday in October until February 15th, the last entry is at 03:30 pm, leaving at 04:30 pm.
  • From February 16th until March 15th, the last entry is at 04:00 pm, leaving at 05:00 pm.
  • From March 16th until the last Sunday in March, the last entry is at 04:30 pm, leaving at 05:30 pm.
  • From the last Sunday in March until August 31st, the last entry is at 6:30 pm, leaving at 7:15 pm.
  • The spa is closed on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. It opens on Monday after Easter.

Values

  • Buying on site: 8 Euros (full)
  • Buying on the website: 10 Euros (full)
  • Official website: coppculture.it

How to get to the Baths?

  • Baths of Caracalla are south to the city center, along a corridor of ancient archaeological remains and attractions that extend from the Roman Forum, to Colosseum, via Via Appia (old Via Appia), on the outskirts of Rome.
  • Subway: If you prefer the subway, then you should take line B and get off at Circo Massimo station. It is a five minute walk from that station. Also read How to use the metro in Rome? and How to buy the Roma Pass?
  • Bus: Leaving Termini Station, there are buses to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and other Roman sites of archaeological interest in the center of Rome. If you want to arrive by bus, line 118 Roma runs every 40 minutes, stopping outside the Baths of Caracalla.

Curiosities…

Baths of Caracalla hosted the gymnasts of the competitions of the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960; also in the second half of the 20th century, the central part of the spa has been used for open-air theater spetacles and shows and, mainly, for the summer season of the ‘Opera di Roma’.

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Hotel I suggest near the Historic Center

If you are passionate about art and would like to stay in the center where you can move around walking, as well as having countless possibilities for places to have lunch / dinner or a snack, I advise you to stay in the historic center. Regions near the Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Imperial Forum and the Villa Borghese, Piazza Spagna and Piazza Navona can be considered as “historic center”. These are the most expensive areas, but you will be close to everything, literally!

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Hotels that I suggest near the San Giovanni Region

For those who want to find cheaper alternatives in quiet areas, but at the same time close to the means of transport to the center, I suggest the region of San Giovanni or Monti (near the metro stations San Giovanni, Castro Pretorio and Circus Massimo) – which it is a more residential neighborhood; therefore, more economical and quiet! And with just 15 minutes by subway you will be in the center too!

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Hotels I suggest near Vatican City

An interesting area to stay and a little cheaper than the historic center is the Vatican area (Vatican Museums) which is very well connected with everything.

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Hotel I suggest near Termini Station

For those who prefer to stay in neighborhoods that have good access to the rest of the city and at a better price, then you should choose accommodation in the surroundings of Termini Station (from where a dense network of public means of transport starts, serving both: the local people and tourists).

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Hotels that I suggest in Trastevere

For those who prefer to “taste” authentic and characteristic Rome, there is nothing better than booking a hotel in Trastevere (on the outskirts of the city’s historic river), full of typical Roman history and traditions, known for the tortuous streets of sampietrini stones and the centers medieval style housing.

The neighborhood is in the historic center and to the right of the Tevere River, in the midst of a spectacular landscape, where each visitor can observe the countless churches and squares (such as Santa Maria in Trastevere). In addition, this neighborhood offers several local restaurants and canteens for those who want to try typical Roman cuisine.

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Conclusion

Visiting the Baths of Caracalla in Rome? The Baths of Caracalla, often referred to as one of the seven wonders of Rome, are famous for the richness of their decoration and the works that adorned it. The ruins of the baths, which are still preserved by the considerable height of more than thirty meters in many points, give us an idea of the magnitude of the thermal complex, the second in size just behind the Baths of Diocletian. What remains of the ancient Baths of Caracalla appears before our eyes still so imposing that visiting them means imagining and experiencing the magnificence and grandeur of the time.

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