Bathing played a major part in ancient Roman culture and society. Bathing was one of the most common daily activities in Roman culture, and was practiced across a wide variety of social classes. Though many contemporary cultures see bathing as a very private activity conducted in the home, bathing in Rome was a communal activity.
Once the largest ancient baths complex in the world, the Baths of Diocletian – or Terme di Diocleziano – was built between 298AD and 306AD in honour of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Set out along the traditional model of a Roman baths complex, the Baths of Diocletian contained a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room or steam room) as well as additional large bathing chambers, gymnasiums and even a library. The baths themselves were a hugely impressive building project, particularly given how swiftly they were constructed. The majority of the water for the baths was supplied by the Acqua Marcia.
The key difference with other contemporary baths was simply a question of scale – it is believed that at their height the Baths of Diocletian could hold up to 3,000 people at a time.
After 30 years of restoration the Baths opened to the public in 2008 and became part of the National Museum of Rome. At present we will be able to visit some remaining parts of the remarkable structure. It will be even possible to walk through a cloister garden projected by Michelangelo where nearly 400 works of art, including statues, sarcophagi and reliefs, are on display.
Look at this video with a gorgeous rendering about the old Bath:
Photo reference: Folegandros, Stilko, Antmoose / Anthony M, G.dallorto et al., Wikimedia Commons