Public Buildings of Pompeii and Herculaneum

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  • Topic: Ancient Rome, Amphitheatre, Gladiator
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  • Published : April 3, 2013
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The Baths, Paleastra, theatres and amphitheatres were the main public buildings of Pompeii and Herculaneum. They were places of leisure for men, women, slaves, citizens, ingenui, and libertini, and while the classes were clearly defined in these places, they were also a social event for all to attend.

The Stabian Baths in Pompeii are situated on the intersection of the Via Stabian and the Via dell’Abbondanza. The oldest parts of the baths date back to the 4th Century BC during the Samnite period. The baths were separated into areas for men and women which were then divided into 4 sections; the apodyterium (the changing room), the frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium.

The Central Thermal Baths, also in Pompeii, were constructed after the earthquake in 62AD. These baths were larger, occupying an entire insula and were equipped with a Palaestra, numerous baths and a sudatorium (sauna). The size increase was due to the growing population of the area and the increase in wealth and leisure activity. In this design the segregation between men and women was done away with.

The Central Thermae Baths in Herculaneum were built in the 1st Century AD in the style of the Fourth Red, meaning the frescoes lining the walls were ornamental and depicted architectural scenes.

The Baths played a very important social role in that they provided a place for people to meet. There was a structured timetable for use, open to the wealthy first in the morning and the slaves towards the end of the day.

The Palaestra - sometimes adjoined to a gymnasium or bath – was essentially the place where boxing, swimming and wrestling took place. The architecture generally consisted of a rectangular court, surrounded by collonades, with adjoining rooms which used for various functions. They became a place where the young could be trained and educated. Later, during the Hellenistic period, the architecture became elaborate and the training equipment more refined.

The theatres of...
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