The Baths of Caracalla: public baths in ancient Rome
It’s easy to fall under the timeless charm of Rome with its wondrous assemblage of historic and artistic heritage dating back thousands of years. One of these landmarks is the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla and an absolute must-see in your itinerary through Rome. These public baths were built in 216 and were originally called the Antonine Baths. It was a popular wellness centre among Romans.
The baths were commissioned by the Roman Emperor Caracalla, byname of Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus. He was a brutal military leader and fervent admirer of Alexandre the Great. His main achievement was the 212 Antonine Constitution, also known as the Caracalla Edict, which granted Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire.
What were the baths?
The Baths of Caracalla were not only a place of relax and rest, but also a place of study and meditation. The rectangular-shaped bath complex followed the blueprint for Roman baths and consisted of a series of pools connected to the caldarium, the tepidarium, the frigidarium and the natatio pool. Guests could enjoy the water circuit, go for walks around the bath’s grounds and receive body treatments. They also served as an important place of socialisation.
The Baths of Caracalla have been faithfully conserved, taking special care of the decorative elements, such as the glass mosaics, the marble walls, painted stuccos and different statues distributed throughout the building.
Water was supplied by the main aqueduct, Aqua Antoniana. The baths remained in use until Rome was sieged by the Ostrogoths, who severed the water supply in 537. The baths were abandoned thereafter.
A tour of the Baths of Caracalla
The baths are no longer operational but it is possible to visit the ruins. The baths were sacked and the 847 earthquake destroyed much of the building. Only the ground floor and some parts of the walls remain intact.
The building’s efficient heating system used coal and wood fires to heat the floors and walls of the rooms, as well as the water supplied by the aqueduct.
Discovering the area around the Baths of Caracalla
A visit to the Baths of Caracalla is an opportunity to discover the way of life of Romans during Classical Antiquity. It isn’t difficult to imagine what life was like in Rome since a stroll through the historic centre of the city is like stepping into a history book and reliving the splendours of Imperial Rome.
Once you’ve completed a visit of the baths, take the time to visit other iconic landmarks located in the vicinity. This includes the ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue, the Circus Maximus; the oldest archaeological site of the city, the Palatino; the legendary Colosseum and the sprawling ruin of the Roman Forum.
Where to eat near the Baths of Carcalla
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular and delicious cuisines in the world. A walk through Rome is a walk through the culinary soul of Italy. Let yourself be seduced by the tantalizing smells of freshly made pasta topped with delectably prepared sauces such as pesto, carbonara or Bolognese, or a delicious freshly-made pizza right out of a wood oven. And, the exhilarating smell of freshly made coffee seems to be Rome’s signature perfume. Read on to discover our roundup of top restaurants near the Baths of Carcalla.
Max Roma Caffè
If you are looking for a restaurant that serves up Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, then this is your place – Max Roma Caffè. The laid-back décor with chill-out areas and bench seats accompanies a varied menu composed of delicious Italian pasta dishes, hamburgers, cocktails and refreshments. It’s a great place to refuel before continuing exploring the Eternal City.
Ristorante di Orazio a Caracalla
Sitting down for a meal at this restaurant is a unique gastronomy experience. Located just five minutes away from the Baths of Caracalla, this establishment serves up wonderful local, homemade food. It is surrounded by a gorgeous garden which is a unique little haven in the centre of Rome. The warm and friendly staff will make you feel right at home.
Ristorante La Renardiere
Rome is filled with a myriad of beautiful, charming restaurants and Ristorante La Renadiere is just one of those. If you’d like to enjoy a delicious French meal in a quaint restaurant in the heart of Rome, be sure to head to this eatery. They have a great menu at fair prices.
The Baths of Caracalla are much more than some simple ruins that were commissioned by the Emperor Caracalla. They are part of the social fabric of Rome and provide a glimpse of life in the times of Imperial Rome – an incredible opportunity to delve into the history of this great city. Come explore the Baths of Caracalla and the historic nearby monuments! And while in Rome, do as the Romans do – enjoy a refreshing aperitif, a delicious meal or a coffee as you explore the one of the most fascinating cities in the world!