If you are in Rome or traveling to the city, then you may have noticed that the weather has been…well, unseasonably warm with a dash of intermittent cold and rain. Truly, there are still days warm enough for expats and tourists (used to really cold weather) to break out sandals and other summer wear, or light/moderate autumn clothing.
With this weather, there is one site that you should visit while you have the chance: The Baths of Caracalla (Le Terme di Caracalla).
In the vicinity of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (the seat of the diocese of Rome, today presided over by Pope Francis), take a stroll down Via dell’Amba Aradam to the sumptuous view of Piazza Numa Pompilio and the Baths of Caracalla. You can also reach the Baths via the metro line B’s Circo Massimo stop, especially if you are coming from Testaccio or some parts of Trastevere.
The namesake of the Baths was the emperor Caracalla, who gained power in AD 211. Caracalla was one of two sons of Septimius Severus, the first emperor born in Africa (North). Certainly, Caracalla is not remembered in the same esteem as other emperors of the Eternal City, given his brutal nature that result in his ordering the death of his co-ruler and brother, Geta, so that he could have complete control of empire. His violent reign did not last long, and he was assassinated in AD 217 at the age of 29.
Although Caracalla’s character left much to be desired in a leader, a flaw suffered by many Roman emperors, he did leave behind the monumental and palatial structure of the Baths on the Aventine.
Erected between AD 212 and 216/7, the Baths represented important aspects of ancient Roman culture as the location served not only as a place for those in the city to take advantage of the hot (caldarium) , warm (tepidarium), or cold (frigidarium) baths and exercise, but also a place to do business, make political deals, socialize or simply just to be seen by the right people.
Up until the construction of the Baths of Diocletian (AD 298-306), the Baths of Caracalla complex was certainly the most impressive and prestigious of the Roman Empire. Consider the fact that the Baths could hold an estimated 1,600 bathers at any one time! Its opulent interior included frescoes, colossal statues (e.g. Asclepius, Farnese Bull and Farnese Hercules), dressing rooms, swimming pool (natatio), gymnasium (palaestras), and even a public library, divided by Greek and Latin texts.
Interested in seeing how the Baths may have looked to ancient Romans? Check out the video below by Danila Loginov:
Surrounding the Baths are many other historical as well as modern sites of interest, such as the Sacred Woods of Camene (Piazza di Porta Capena), the Porta Capena, the Nymphaeum of Egeria, the modern structure of the FAO headquarters, and the 9/11 two-column memorial in the Piazza di Porta Capena (video: 2013 Commemoration), offered as “a symbol of the Twin Towers in New York and in homage to the immense cultural heritage of the city of Rome against all forms of terrorism” (“a simbolo delle due torri gemelle di New York e in omaggio all’immenso patrimonio culturale della città di Roma contro ogni forma di terrorismo“).
Thinking about visiting the Baths of Caracalla? Check out MindtheGuide.com for our Baths of Caracalla and Colossem Tour (also see Circus Maximus, the Arch of Constantine and the view from the Palantine Hill)!
– Free Download Link –
(By Italienska Statens Turistbyrå/Italian Tourist Office)
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