The Termae Anthoninianae
, also known as the Baths of Caracalla
, are some of the best preserved imperial building of the ancient times. They were built in the southern part of Rome, under emperor Caracalla, and were finished in 216 A.D. They exhibit the rectangular plan typical of Imperial spa centres and was not simply a place for bathing, sport and health, but it was also a place of study and for relaxing. Entrance to the heart of the building was by one of four porticos on the north-east face. Around the centre of the structure the various parts of the spa are found in sequential order: the "Calidarium", the "Tepidarium", the "Frigidarium" and the "Natatio". There are also other zones and areas to be found around the two gymnasiums. The spa of Caracalla is one of those rare ancient examples in which, albeit only in part, it is possible to reconstruct something of the internal decoration. Written manuscripts refer to enormousmarble columns, flooring made of coloured marble, mosaics of glass and marble on the walls, painted stuccos and hundreds of statues located in niches and placed centrally in the rooms themselves. The water system was made possible by the construction of a special duct from the main aqueduct called the Aqua Antoniana. Throughout its history the spa was reconstructed several times and before finally closing altogether in 537 A.D.
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