The Baths of Caracalla or Thermae Antoninianae as they were known in ancient Rome are located on the Celian Hill which overlooks the Colosseum. The complex was commissioned by Emperor Septimus Severus in 206CE and was erected by his son Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus from 212CE until 216CE. Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus had the agnomen or nickname of Emperor Caracalla; this was due to an unusual cloak he was always seen wearing and is why the baths have the name they do. The baths were in use until the hydraulic installation was destroyed in the Gothic War of the 6th century.
The Baths of Caracalla were not just used for bathing, it was a multifunctional centre. Inside the precinct one could find Greek and Latin libraries, seminar rooms, art galleries, gardens, and a gymnasium among other things. The Baths of Caracalla were one of 50 or more baths in Ancient Rome, open to the public for little or no fee to use the facilities. A normal middle class Roman might use a bath once a day whereas an elite member of society may visit many times throughout the day.
At the time of its completion, the Baths of Caracalla were the largest of their kind. The main bathing block was 228 meters long, 116 meters wide and 38.5 meters in height and the whole precinct was 412 meters long and 393 meters wide. In a time where commissions were a way of showing your strength and stature in the community, Emperor Caracalla exceeded what had ever been done before. The grandness was unparalleled, the calidarium, a very hot and steamy bath room (labeled D in picture above), is comparable in size to the Parthenon in Rome. The whole building was lavishly adorned with great pieces of artwork and 252 marble columns. It is estimated that 35,000 cubic meters of lime stone, 341,000 cubic meters of pozzolanic cement, 150,000 cubic meters of basalt, 520,000 large bricks, 17.5 million pieces of brick facing and 6,300 cubic meters of marble...
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