The Baths of Diocletian are located on the Viminal Hill of Rome. They were built between 298 and 306 AD, by order of Maximian, emperor of Rome between 286 and 305 (in fact, co-emperor, so to speak, of Rome, together with Diocletian, in the honor of whom the baths were constructed). The Baths of Diocletian are not necessarily unique when compared with other similar complexes in Rome (they have approximately the same structure, and, in terms of dimensions, they are about just as ample as the Baths of Caracalla - some 27 acres - with which they are often compared).

Thus, the ancient Romans, in particular the locals from the neighboring districts (the Quirinal and the Esquiline), could come at the Baths of Diocletian and enjoy all the treatments one could possibly conceive at the time: dips in the frigidarium, followed by plunges in the tepidarium’s pools, and, finally, a visit to the relaxing caldarium, completing a natural and wholesome trajectory from low to medium and, eventually, hot temperatures. These were the basic rooms, so to speak, of the complex, but they were not the only essential areas of the complex.

On the contrary, as it was the case with most of the imperial baths of ancient Rome (and the baths can be rightfully deemed a sort of institution highly observed by the Romans), they resembled more to what at present one could call a leisure complex. The 27 acres wide area of the baths also contained gardens and libraries, where clients could take long relaxing walks or read (though the presence of the onsite libraries is not certain, the resemblance in terms of structure of the Baths of Diocletian to the Baths of Caracalla sustains the theory).

Just like it was the case with plenty other ancient edifices, the Baths of Diocletian decayed in time, but large parts of the site were preserved, in particular because, in the course of history, sections of it assumed new functions. Thus, the site of the frigidarium was later occupied by the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Michelangelo himself made tremendous efforts to adapt the ancient structure to the architectural guidelines of a place of worship, somewhere in the mid 16h century), another section was filled by the Church of San Bernardo alle Terme (built in 1598), whereas Muzeo Nazionale Romano is hosted by the main hall and by the octagonal aula of the baths.

Baths of Diocletian (Thermae Diocletiani)
79, Viale Enrico de Nicola, 00185, Rome, Italy

79, Viale Enrico de Nicola, 00185, Rome, Italy

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