Zone: From the Colosseum to Vatican

These Hot Baths, or Thermal Baths – or simply the Public Baths – were built by the Roman Emperor Caracalla, on the slopes of the Lesser Aventine Hill, close to the Circus Maximus – over the period of 212 to 216 AD. Perhaps you're thinking that you've never heard of a Roman Emperor called 'Caracalla'? And you'd be right – it wasn't his official Roman name, but his popular nickname. This young man from the Severan clan of rulers was officially named Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus Caesar. But don't mistake him for the 'real' Marcus Aurelius – his father had renamed him after the much-loved Emperor, as the first step in massaging public opinion for the boy's path to high office. He and his brother Geta spent their young years of manhood posted with the Roman legions, north of Hadrian's Wall, in a failed military campaign to extend Roman rule in Britain to conquer Caledonia – which today we would call Scotland. A Roman toga was completely inadequate clothing for the Highland gales, and so the boys took to wearing a long, woollen hooded coat that came down to the ankles, and which the Roman would-be colonists named a caracal – a borrowed local name. The future Emperor liked his warm Scottish coat so much, that he took to wearing it, even after their legion had been recalled to Rome – and so Romans nicknamed him Caracallus, 'the boy in the hooded coat'. Today we're going to visit the most famous achievement of his chequered career – the Caracalla Roman Baths. He built the baths to win public favour – and at least in their name, he definitely succeeded. They still bear his name, to this day.
  • Italy
  • Rome
  • 11 stops
  • 01:10
  • 1066 m.
  • English
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