Travel in time to an ancient Roman spa.
One of the Emperors that ruled Rome was Caracalla. He was described as murderous, temperamental, wicked, disturbing, and brutal. How did a man with this reputation create something so beautiful that it is now a beloved piece of Ancient Rome for us to admire today? This piece of Ancient Rome I am talking about is Le Terme di Caracalla.
- Find out which room would have been your favorite: the caldarium, the tepidarium, or the frigidarium.
- Explore the underground complex, the technological heart of the baths, and home to the Mithraeum.
- Admire the remnants of the sea-themed mosaics – see how many pieces you can spot.
What are The Baths of Caracalla?
- Roman baths were a fundamental and beloved part of Roman life in ancient times.
- They gave the people of ancient Rome a way to keep good hygiene, and it was a social setting.
- People would spend the whole day there. Bathing, reading, doing physical activity, socialising, and relaxing.
- The baths of Caracalla did not discriminate based on class. No matter their age or social status, they were free and open to use by the public.
- They were a type of gift from Emperor Caracalla to the Roman people. A way to get their admiration and encourage them to like him.
Tickets & Prices
All tickets to the Baths of Caracalla grant you entrance to the ruins which you can explore at your own pace. Tickets can be purchased online (with a small reservation fee) or at the ticket office on-site. Both printed and digital tickets are permitted.
Find out below which ticket is best suited to you.
This is the standard ticket suitable for all non-European citizens over the age of 18 and European citizens over the age of 25.
European citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible for this reduced ticket.
The first Sunday of each month is free to all visitors. In some circumstances, admission to the ruins is free every day. This ticket is suitable for:
- Children under 18 years of age
- Italian teachers with a fixed-term or permanent contract
- European Union tour guides
- European Union tourist interpreters
- Employees of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities
- Members of ICOM (international council of the museum)
- Members of ICCROM (international organization for the conservation of cultural heritage)
- One free ticket for an EU school group of over 10 students led by one teacher
- EU Teachers and students of certain subjects
- Erasmus students of certain subjects
- Art-history teachers in high-schools
- Students of the following schools: central institute of restoration, opificio delle pietre dure, school for mosaic restoration
- People with disabilities and one family member or a helper belonging to the health and social assistance service
- Certain volunteers who carry out promotion and dissemination activities of cultural heritage
Things to Know Before Your Visit
- They are closed on Mondays.
Hours of operation:
- January 1st- February 28th: 9.30- 16.30
- March 1st- March 26th: 9.00- 17.30
- March 27th- September 31st: 9.00- 19.15
- There is no dress code.
- There is not a lot of shade, so wear sunscreen.
- Big crowds here are never too bad but go in the morning to avoid the afternoon sun.
- Check to see if there are any events happening at the Terme that you can see/participate in, in addition to the Terme.
How to Get to the Terme di Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla are located just to the south of central Rome, on Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 52. They are within walking distance from the Colosseum (15 min.) and the Circus Maximus (10 min.)
Metro: The closest station is Circo Massimo, which is on Line B. It’s a 10-minute walk from there.
Tram: The number 3 tram also stops at Circo Massimo.
Bus: 118, 160, and 628 all stop at Terme Caracalla/ Porta Capena, the nearest bus stop.
Maps will normally tell you the best metro/bus route from your current or chosen location.
Get your ticket. In Rome, take away the stress and always have a ticket with you. Make sure to validate it. Rome metro/bus/tram tickets stay valid for 100 minutes after you validate it the first time.
If you have a few days in Rome, you could also consider paying more to get a ticket with longer validity. Check online by searching ATAC Rome tickets to see what option works best for your time in Rome.
You Can Buy Tickets At:
- The tabaccheria shops. You’ll recognize them by the T that hangs outside the shop.
- The newsstands Edicola.
- They are also purchasable at the numerous machines you’ll see around Termini station.
Be aware of the ticket stations. Sometimes people stand around and offer help and demand money afterward. Don’t stress. Take your time, and get your tickets on your own. If you need help, ask a staff member or a local passing by.
Directions From Termini Station
- Follow the metro signs.
- You’ll be needing the B line, the blue one.
- Follow the metro B signs that take you in the direction of Laurentina.
- You’ll be exiting on the third stop, Circo Massimo
- Now you’re off the metro, and you look in front of you. Where do you go? You’ll get to the top of the stairs, look towards the road where on the other side you’ll see Circo Massimo and you’ll turn to the right.
Download the offline map on your phone to avoid the stress of getting lost.
- You’ll take the first right that comes up, and after that, it is pretty straightforward.
- You’ll see this sign that says Stadio delle Terme di Caracalla and you’ll know you’re almost there. Follow the arrow underneath that point in the direction of the Terme.
|What the metro exit will look like once you exit. It will be the only option if you depart from Termini station.
|When you see this sign you’ll cross the road, walk through the bush trail in front of you and keep to your right. After this, you’ll be basically right at the entrance.
Entrance to the Terme di Caracalla
- You’ll walk up this little hill you see in the photo below to start your day at the Terme.
- Whether you bought tickets online or you want to purchase them in person, you’ll have to go through the same line, but it is very quick.
|You made it. This is the entrance to the Terme di Caracalla.
|Stand in line here to show/purchase your ticket.
- Here you’ll have the option to add an audio or visual guide to your ticket.
There is an audio guide that is on a smart phone they give you in exchange for an ID. It gives audio in several languages and shows pictures of the Terme, what they look like now and in ancient times.
They also have the option of a virtual reality guide. You’ll hold the device up to your face and be transported to what the Terme were like in their original state.
- While waiting, you’ll see some 3D models of the Terme, which I highly recommend looking at to get a better visual of the layout of the Terme.
|This is the 3D model of the current state of the baths.
|3D reconstruction of the baths in Ancient Rome.
You’re in, Time to Explore
In my opinion, the Terme di Caracalla is a beautiful and tranquil tourism option for Rome. While they are breathtaking and full of history, they are not visited in the masses like the Vatican and Colosseum are. Because of that, they offer history, peace, tourism, and fun all in one.
You’ll start here:
|Along this path, you’ll get some good background info on the Terme, even if you don’t pay for the additional audio/visual guide.
I recommend taking your time and really picturing what the baths would have been like to visit back in their prime days. This is a great attraction to take your time and enjoy the beauty and serenity around you. Here are some of my favourite sights from my visit. Keep an eye out for these when you go.
|An enchanting view from inside the Terme.
The bath complex consisted of three different rooms with varying temperatures, as well as two palaestras (gyms) and a laconicum (sauna).
The caldarium (hot room) was a circular room that held seven pools and reached temperatures of up to nearly 38°C. The room was heated with fires from below that were constantly attended to by slaves so that the room could stay hot enough.
The tepidarium (of medium heat) held two pools of warm water and would have been considered the most relaxing out of the three rooms. It was lavishly decorated with mosaics and marble.
The frigidarium (cold room) was the central room to which all the other rooms were connected. It housed four pools of cold baths, as well as a decorative fountain, and would have been almost completely covered in marble.
The natatio was an Olympic-sized swimming pool surrounded by 20-meter-high walls and three gigantic granite columns. Instead of a roof, it was topped with bronze mirrors that were angled in a way to direct sunlight into the pool, which would help keep it heated.
|Some beautiful mosaics.
|Don’t forget to look up to keep an eye out for the beautiful pieces of marble that remain.
The underground complex was the area that housed the ovens and pumps, which supplied the baths with hot water. Today, it hosts the exhibition area where you can learn much more about the history of this incredible complex and the Romans who built it.
Underground is also home to the Mithraeum, the largest worshipping space for the god Mithra ever documented. This Persian god was popular among the Roman working class during the 2cd and 3rd centuries. You can still see an impressive fresco of him on the wall.
Only one of them survives today, but there were originally two symmetrical libraries in the bath complex, one which held texts in Greek, the other in Latin. They featured 32 niches for the books over three walls and were decorated with marble and statues. A masonry ledge was used as a seating area.
In its heyday, the baths were lavishly decorated with sculptures, frescoes, and black and white mosaics portraying sea creatures, some remnants of which can still be seen today. As you walk through the ruins, keep your eyes peeled for these beautiful artworks and imagine what it would have been like to walk through here as a Roman.
|Intricate and beautiful floors.
- Water fountain
You Saw the Terme di Caracalla, Now What?
Head more towards the historic centre and visit:
Close by there are not too many bars and restaurants so I would suggest heading back towards the centre if you’re looking for some delicious Roman cuisine.
Did You Know That: 5 Interesting Facts
- Decorative pieces taken from the baths were reused in other famous monuments, such as the Pisa Cathedral and the Santa Maria in Trastevere church.
- The baths were designed to accommodate up to 1,600 bathers at a time and would receive up to 8,000 bathers a day.
- The Romans were incredible innovators. They installed a heating system that used coal and wood fires to heat the water from the aqueduct and the walls and floors of the rooms.
- They are the best-preserved Roman bath complex that exists today and were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
- Every July and August the baths serve as a venue for open-air opera and ballet performances. Catching a show is a unique and beautiful way to experience the ruins.
- The baths were built between 211 and 217 CE under the command of Emperor Caracalla (though the original idea was thought to have been conceived by his father, Emperor Septimius Severus).
- The thermae, which were the second largest public baths in Rome, were in use for over 300 years and were an integral part of Roman society.
- In 537 CE, Rome was attacked by the Ostrogoths, who cut off the supply of water to the city. The baths were consequently abandoned.
- In 847, a powerful earthquake destroyed much of the structure of the baths, as well as some other Roman edifices.
- Starting from the 12th century, the structure was used as a quarry for construction materials, such as marble and other stones.
- Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the baths became a source of inspiration for many famous artists and architects, and many drawings of the ruins can be traced back to this period.
- Excavation and restoration work, however, didn’t begin until the 19th century, and they continued well into the 20th.
- The Baths of Caracalla finally reopened to the public as a tourist site in 2001. Today, visitors from all over the world enjoy exploring these fascinating ancient ruins.
Address: Baths of Caracalla, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla , 00153 Roma, Italy · view larger map