Roman Baths

Advancement of Roman Architecture

What are Roman Baths ?

Baths for bathing and relaxing were a common feature of Roman cities throughout the empire. The often huge bath complexes included a wide diversity of rooms offering different temperatures and facilities such as swimming pools and places to read, relax, and socialize. Roman baths, with their need for large open spaces, were also important drivers in the evolution of architecture offering the first dome structures in classical architecture. Examples of Roman Baths include:

Baths of Diocletian which could hold 20,000 m³ of water. Water was heated in large lead boilers fitted over the furnaces. The water could be added (via lead pipes) to the heated pools by using a bronze half-cylinder (testudo) connected to the boilers. Once released into the pool the hot water circulated by convection.

Baths of Caracella- located by taking the Via Terme Di Caracalla and the Via Antonina (where the remains of Arch of Drusus aqueduct /Aqua Antoniniana/ are located as well). Much of the art that was found on the walls and some mosaic floors have been removed and taken to various museums around the world. The interior of the building was enormously rich in color. The marble walls were littered with paintings and mosaics, the floors were also mosaics and painted sculpture adorned many if not all the alcoves. The structure endorsed 6300m3 of marble and employed 600 marble workers and 6,000 tradesmen to labor on this one project.

Big image


The Romans expanded the idea to incorporate a wide array of facilities and baths became common in even the smaller towns of the Roman world, where they were often located near the forum. In addition to public baths, wealthy citizens often had their own private baths constructed as a part of their villa and baths were even constructed for the legions of the Roman army when on campaign. However, it was in the large cities that these complexes (balnea or thermae) took on monumental proportions with vast colonnades and wide-spanning arches and domes.

There are many different sections and areas of a Roman Bath. •apodyterium - changing rooms. There is a palaestrae, an exercise room, a notatio, open-air swimming pool, an laconica and sudatoria which are superheated dry and wet sweating-rooms, an calidarium, a hot room, heated and with a hot-water pool and a separate basin on a stand, a tepidarium, a warm room, indirectly heated and with a tepid pool, a frigidarium, a cool room, unheated and with a cold-water basin, often monumental in size and domed, it was the heart of the baths complex and rooms for massage and other health treatments.

Materials Used

The development of concrete in the form of stiff mortared rubble allowed unsupported walls to be built ever wider apart, as did hollow brick barrel vaults supported by buttress arches and the use of iron tie bars.
Big image
Big image

Other Activities

Though the main function of the Roman baths were to provide time for those of the community to clean themselves, there were more uses than just one for this building. Most Roman men visited the baths in the afternoon, and spent their time soaking, gossiping, meeting friends, and discussing politics. Some bath houses offered gymnasiums, libraries, gardens, art galleries, restaurants, and even brothels.

Are They Still Standing Today and Modern Counterparts

Although the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian and the Baths of Caracella can still be seen in Rome, there are other small replicas of Roman baths scattered around Europe. The Baths of Caracella, however, are still the best preserved baths in all of the Roman Empire.

The architecture and idea of the Roman bathing houses left a mark on society. Not only did the first modern public baths open in Liverpool in 1829, but other types of buildings have been influenced by the architecture, such as the Chicago Railroad Station and Pennsylvania Station in New York, which copy the architecture of the frigidarium in the Baths of Caracella.

Public baths are also relevant in France and Japan. Because of economic crises in France, it's found to be much cheaper to have public baths. Japanese baths used to be a major part of Japanese society, with over 17,000 bath houses across the nation in 1968, but the numbers quickly dropped because there are so few young people willing to take over the businesses.

Big image