Baths of Caracalla, Rome The Baths of Caracalla were the largest thermae in the world when completed in 217AD. The were functional for over 300 years. The Baths of Caracalla The red-brick ruins of the Baths of Caracalla are siturated southeast of ancient Rome's center. This huge 27 acre complex (11 hectares) housed bathing facilities with seats for more than 1600 people. At a time when Rome's crowded tenements had few sanitary facilities, the more than 50 baths in Imperial Rome played an important part in the lives of the Roman citizens. The ritual of bathing was a long process, starting with a hot bath in the calidarium. Next up was the lukewarm tepidarium, followed by the cold frigidarium. Then followed a swim in the natatio, an open air swimming pool. Leisure Center The complex was actually a multifunctional leisure center and also housed gymnasiums, libraries, gardens, art galleries, restaurants and even brothels. The Baths of Caracalla were known for its rich interior which featured marble seats, mosaic covered walls and floors as well as fountains and statues. Construction Construction of the Baths of Caracalla started in 212AD and was completed in 217AD. The complex was built during the reign of emperor Caracalla whose official name was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, hence the original name of the baths, Thermae Antoninianae. The emperor was nicknamed Caracalla after a Gallic tunic he used to wear, but this name was never officially used.turkeyarena.com Caracalla Caracalla is infamous for killing his more popular brother Geta. He is also known for his decision to offer citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire, mainly to increase the income from taxes. Water Distribution The baths were enormous buildings, with huge frescoed vaults covering the large rooms. A complex water distribution system ensured a constant flow of water from the Aqua Marcia aqueduct. Below the main buildings were two levels, the upper one was used for services and heating the water, the lower one was used for water drainage. The baths were fully functional until 537AD when Goths destroyed the aqueduct, cutting off the water supply. Decay Neglection, looting and an earthquake turned this great architectural complex into ruins. But even these ruins impress visitors by its magnificence.