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In 206 A.D. Emperor Septimus Severus began construction on a thermal bath complex which was to become the largest and most beautiful in Rome. Inaugurated ten years later by his son Caracalla, it remained in operation up until the 6th century when the Ostrogaths, under Totilla, sacked it, destroying the hydraulic installations. Officially named 'Antonine', the baths were popularly referred to as 'the Caracalla baths' Occupying eleven hectares, inside its thick rectangular walls are the remains of the main building, once surrounded by gardens; adjunct buildings, such as: the library, entertainment and conference rooms, and the gymnasium. On the opposite side of the fašade was the heating reservoir fed by the 'Acqua Marcia'. The gardens were decorated with huge cup shaped fountains, two of which still function, and can be found in Piazza Farnese. The entrance opens into the 'Frigidarium' (cold water room) and its pool, followed next by the 'Tepidarium', and finally the 'Calidarium' (hot water room) a 35 square meter room, with a huge circular pool, that originally was topped with a cupola, which dominated the entire complex. The pool was heated by a system referred to today as 'a pannelli radianti' (radiant panels). Beneath the room were a system of furnaces and tubes, along with elaborate passageways, facilitating the movement of huge quantities of wood and ash, in order to accommodate up to 2000 people at a time. The internal and external walls were faced in polychrome marble. The rooms and gardens were decorated with statues in marble and bronze. The Vatican museum displays various examples of these works. Notable are: 'Il Toro Farnese', 'La Flora', 'Il Torso Belvedere', as well as two large mosaics.

Via delle terme di Caracalla
Hours: Tues.-Sun.: 9:00 A.M.-7:00 P.M. Monday: 9:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M.
Tel: 06 5758626
Admission fee charged
Internet site: www.archeorm.arti.beniculturali.it

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