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Thermal baths

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Thermae (Latin: thermae from Greek: теплыйερμός "warm, hot, hot") — ancient baths in classical Greece — at large houses and gymnasiums; during the Hellenistic period, they were used by the entire population of the city. In ancient Rome, the baths were built on the Greek model and became the centers of social life.

Ancient Roman thermal baths

The first baths were built in Rome by Agrippa (25-19 BC), who bequeathed them for free use to the Roman population. Next to them, on the Field of Mars, Nero built his thermal baths (later they were renovated by Alexander Severus, which is why they are sometimes called Alexandrovs). Not far from Nero's Golden House are the baths of Titus; to the north-east of them, almost side by side, were the baths of Trajan (104-109), where women washed during the reign of this emperor. Later, the baths of Caracalla, officially called the Baths of Antoninus, were erected near the Appian Way, beyond the Capenian Gate, between the Aventine and Caelium. Between Quirinal and Viminal were the baths of Diocletian (298-306), which covered 13 hectares. Michelangelo's frigidarium turned them into the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, which still exists today. The National Museum of Rome is also located here. Thermal baths were also built on the territory of Roman provinces, for example, the imperial baths in Trier.

Inside, the imperial baths were made of marble, decorated with mosaics, sculptures and marble columns, the windows and doors were made of bronze. In the thermal baths there were the following rooms: clothes were left in the changing room (apodyterium), then the visitor could play sports or lubricate the body with oils. The bath "program" started with swimming in cold water in frigidarium, then in lukewarm water in tepidarium, and then in caldarium, with warm water.

Thermae Traianus, Rome. Early 2nd century AD
Thermae Antonius (Latin: Thermae Antonius). Carthage. Mid-2nd century AD
Aïn Doura thermal baths. Dugga (Tunisia). 2-3 century AD

Roman architects developed an efficient central heating system with floor and wall heating — hypocaustum. In the thermal baths, water and air were heated using a furnace (praefurnium), which then circulated under the floor and in the cavities of the walls. In this case, double coatings were used so that the floor was not very hot. The top cover consisted of large bricks, a layer of broken clay, and a base coat. All this was supported on small brick pillars (pilae), which were immediately placed in a staggered order. Rectangular bricks were built into the walls, hollow inside (tubuli), which were fastened with metal brackets. Inside, the walls of the baths were decorated with marble or plastered.

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Thermal baths of Licinia. Dugga (Tunisia). In honor of the second consul of Rome, Licinius (Latin: Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus). 3rd century AD
Thermae Agrippae (Latin: Thermae Agrippae), Rome, 1st century BC
Heating system-hypokaust

Thermal Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla (Ital. The Terme di Caracalla is a thermal bath of the Emperor Caracalla in Rome, officially called the Thermae Antoninianae (Latin: Thermae Antoninianae). They were on the Appian Way, beyond the Capenian Gate, between the Aventine and Caelium. Construction began in 212 AD and was completed in 217 after the emperor's death. The courtyard of the baths of Caracalla had a size of 400 by 400 m, the central complex — 150 by 200 m.

Already in the fifth century AD, the Baths of Caracalla were considered one of the wonders of Rome. They covered an area of 11 hectares. The main building, "bath building", is located in a park, which is surrounded by a solid line of different rooms. In the bronze bindings of the huge semicircular windows of the main hall, thin plates of translucent ivory stone are inserted. Because of this, the hall is lit with a steady golden light. The walls of polished marble seemed to dissolve into a height where the vault floated on an unprecedented scale. Outside, the baths of Caracalla were lined with marble slabs, under the marble-a multi-meter thickness of local stone and concrete-a mixture of lime with pebbles and sand. From bricks or hewn stones, the Romans laid out the shell of a building. A concrete mass was poured into it. 3When concrete solidified, it became stronger than stone. Many buildings that appear to be made up of individual slabs actually consist of a single solidified concrete "piece". To the right and left of the main entrance are two large exedra; in front of each of them is a palaestra. At the rear of the garden (opposite the main entrance), in the right and left corners, are two large halls; judging by their internal equipment, they should be considered libraries; on three sides along the walls there were low steps that went up to the niches where the scrolls were stored. In the center between these halls are arranged amphitheatrically rows of seats; these rows are somewhat rounded at both ends. In front of them was the stadium, which could be viewed both from the thermal baths themselves (from the back rooms) and from this amphitheater. Above it, higher up, were the water tanks for the baths: 64 vaulted rooms, running in two rows and two floors. The water for these cisterns was diverted from Aqua Marcia.

Thermal Baths of Caracalla
Thermal Baths of Caracalla
Thermal Baths of Caracalla

There were four entrances to the" bathhouse"; the two central ones led to the covered halls located on both sides of the frigidarium. There was no roof over the frigidarium; behind it, on one axis, lay a large hall, which for a long time was mistaken for a tepidarium, although it does not have any devices for the furnace, a tepidarium and behind it a round caldarium, the dome of which (35 m in diameter) was supported by eight powerful pilasters; two of them still stand today. The caldarium was surrounded by small compartments where you could wash alone. On either side of the caldarium were rooms for meetings, recitations, etc. p.

Mosaic from the baths of Caracalla, 3rd century AD.
Marble chariot seats for latrina from the baths of Caracalla. The British Museum. 3rd century AD
Relief with the image of a ladies ' toilet. Dedicated to the priestess Claudia Ageta Demeter in Sparta, 170 AD, Exhibition" Looking into the eyes of the Romans " in Tongre.

Among the many rooms of various kinds that were located to the right and left of these rooms intended for washing, we should note two palaestra, two large open courtyards surrounded on three sides by a colonnade. These Palaestra are arranged perfectly symmetrically: one on the north-east and the other on the north — west side of the building, each of them facing the apse. In the floor of these absids there was a famous mosaic with figures of athletes, probably dating back to the IV century AD (found in 1824, stored in the Lateran Museum). Not only did the emperors strive for artistic decoration of their thermal baths, not only lined the walls with marble, covered the floors with mosaics and erected magnificent columns: they systematically collected works of art here. The thermal baths of Caracalla once housed the Farnese Bull, statues of Flora and Hercules, and the torso of Apollo Belvedere (among many other lesser statues). People came here not only to wash off the dirt, but also to rest here. Especially important were the baths for the poor. No wonder one of the modern scientists called the baths the best gift that the emperors made to the Roman population. The visitor found here a club, a stadium, a recreation garden, and a house of culture. Everyone could choose what they liked: some of them, after washing, sat down to chat with friends, went to watch wrestling and gymnastic exercises and do them themselves; others wandered around the park, admired the statues, and stayed in the library. People left with a reserve of new strength, rested and refreshed not only physically, but also morally.

In 1960, during the Summer Olympic Games, gymnast competitions were held in the ruins of Thermae.

Related topics

Latrina, Architecture in Ancient Rome, Theatre