Explore 7 Ancient Bath Houses In Their Prime With This Interactive Tool
After a long day, there’s nothing like unwinding with a nice bath. But did you know that taking a bath used to be a decadent community event? Long before we began designing our dream tubs at home, grand public baths were a staple of many ancient cultures.
The Indus people may have been the first to create public baths around 2500 BC, before the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans began designing their own. Although these serene feats of architecture were renowned in their day, many lie in ruins in the present day.
Roman Baths (60-70 AD)
Location: Bath, England
The Roman Baths are so fundamental to our modern understanding of baths that a whole city is named after them. Unlike many public baths at the time, these baths featured a naturally heated, larger area for actual swimming, not just soaking. There was also a “dry sweating room” and a series of plunge pools.
Hadrian’s Villa (110 AD)
Location: Tivoli, Italy
Definitely the most exclusive bathing house on this list, Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Villa (also known as the Villa Adriana) was used exclusively by the Imperial Family and their inner circle. The sprawling complex spans nearly 300 acres, and was conveniently located within the emperor’s home.
The villa featured pools of descending temperatures for Romans to enjoy. First, they soaked in a hot caldarium, before moving to a warm tepidarium. Up next was a circula sauna called a laconicum. Finally, they would finish off with a cool soak in a frigidarium.
The Roman Baths of Odessos (2nd Century AD)
Location: Varna, Bulgaria
In their prime, the Balkans’ largest public bath stood 72 feet high. Unlike most Roman baths of the time, the Odessos baths were open to women before noon and men in the afternoon. Built with carefully laid stone and brick that insulated guests from sudden changes in temperature, the baths featured statues to a host of gods: Heracles, Mercury, and Victoria, as well as the health and healing gods Asclepius and Hygia.
Baths of Carcalla (216 AD)
Location: Rome, Italy
This gargantuan complex contained the second-largest baths in the Roman Empire, second only to the Baths of Diocletian (also in Rome). The Baths of Carcalla were free to Roman citizens, and up to 8,000 people per day came to use them. The sprawling baths also housed gardens, libraries, and a temple to Mithra (a pagan religion). They lasted long after the Roman Empire was gone, but were finally destroyed by invading Ostragoths in 537, who cut off the aqueducts that supplied water to the baths.
Head over to QS Supplies’ website to see all seven baths for yourself.