Bathhouse blog

Baths as a mark on history

Roman emperors have left a mark on history in various ways. We remember Julius Caesar because he said to his assassin, "And you, Brutus!" and also because the month of July was named after him; the name of his colleague, Emperor Augustus, also remains on the calendar; we associate Caligula with mad orgies and murder; we know of Nero that he set fire to Rome to get inspiration for poetry. Emperor Septimius Bassianus Caracalla remains in history because he built a bathhouse.

Why? At this time - the second-third century AD - there were at least 150 baths functioning in Rome at the same time. There was, however, such a tradition: each new emperor, taking up his "post", built another bathhouse as a gift to the city. Not that it was some kind of compulsory duty - just people would not respect. And Caracalla had a problem with that. He was a successful commander, was going to conquer the whole world like Alexander the Great, but in order to get unlimited power, he killed his own father and brother, as well as just in case all their servants - that's several thousand people. His character, in general, was terrible.

Caracalla expected that his generosity and the unprecedented luxury of the thermae built for the city would shut the throats of those who spread rumors unpleasant to him. Indeed, the eleven-hectare water complex was popularly known as the "Miracle of Rome". It was a whole city within a city - with sports fields, parks and a library. Spacious halls were lined with marble, decorated with mosaics and sculptures. Visits were free and available to all citizens of the empire.

The preserved ruins have allowed to create a faithful 3D reconstruction of the thermae. Source:
Caracalla was only partially able to realize his plan. With the thermae, everything worked out perfectly. Nine thousand people worked on the construction site for five years - the presentation took place in 217 A.D. Only the emperor to this date did not live. He was killed by his own assistants, frightened by treachery and bloodthirsty plans of the boss (he was, by the way, only 29 years old).

Built on the conscience of the thermae worked successfully for 400 years, until they were plundered by barbarians who seized the city. But even now the majestic ruins are not in bad condition - it is one of the most popular tourist places in Rome. In 1960, when the Olympic Games were held in Italy, the Thermae of Caracalla even hosted gymnastics competitions.