Baths of Trajan

Baths of Trajan

The Baths of Trajan, begun in AD 104 and dedicated during the "Kalends" of July in 109, were a massive Roman bathing and leisure complex, built in Rome. Commissioned by Emperor Trajan, the complex of baths occupied space on the southern side of the Oppian Hill on the outskirts of what was then the main developed area of the city, although still inside the boundary of the Servian Wall. The architect of the complex is said to be Apollodorus of Damascus. After being utilized mainly as a recreational and social center by Roman citizens for many years, the baths seem to have been deserted at the time of the siege of Rome by the Goths in AD 537.


Prior to the construction of the Baths, their location on the Oppian Hill was occupied by the ornate Palace of Nero (Domus Aurea). After Emperor Nero's rule and suicide, subsequent emperors, such as Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian chose to build over his palace with other forms of architecture. Emperor Trajan covered up the last of the palace with a platform upon which the Baths were built. Because they serve as a model for bath complexes built throughout the Roman world during the Imperial period, these Baths would come to be recognized as a highly notable example of early Imperial Roman architecture.

The Baths were situated on the southern slopes of the Oppian Hill, a southern extension of the Esquiline Hill. Built on a platform which had itself been built over Nero's Palace, the bath complex was immense by ancient Roman standards, covering an area of approximately 330 by 215 meters. The complex rested on a northeast-southwest axis, with the main building attached to the northeast wall. This was contrary to the more widely used north-south axis of many buildings in the vicinity. It is suggested that this unorthodox orientation was chosen by the architects to reduce the bathers' exposure to the wind, while also maximizing exposure to the sun.

Within the complex, the building was surrounded by a large grassy area. The baths themselves consisted of pools, including a tepidarium (warm area and presumably first room visited in the baths), a caldarium (hot pool and dry, sauna-like area), frigidarium (cool pools used after those previously mentioned), and also gymnasia and apodyteria (changing rooms). In addition to the facilities of the bath complex used by the public, there was a system of subterranean passageways and structures used by slaves and workers to service and maintain the facilities. Also underground, the massive cistern, known as the "Sette sale", stored much of the water used in the baths and was in fact capable of storing no less than 8 million litres, still exists today. There were also several "exedrae" found on the eastern and western sides of the building. After archaeological analysis performed after excavation in 1997, it is thought that at least one of these "exedra" served as a sort of library and a holding place for scrolls and manuscripts.

ee also

General overview
*Roman aqueducts
*Roman architecture
*Roman Baths (Bath)
*Roman engineeringOther baths
*Baths of Diocletian
*Baths of CaracallaEngineers
*List of Roman domes (half-domes)


*Anderson, James C. Jr. "The Date of the Thermae Traiani and the Topography of the Oppius Mons". "American Journal of Archaeology". Archaeological Institute of America, 1985. Pgs. 499-509.
*La Rocca, Eugenio. "The Newly Discovered City Fresco from Trajan's Baths, Rome". "Imago Mundi". Imago Mundi, 2001. Pgs. 121-124.
*Platner, S.B. "The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome". 2nd ed. 1911. pg. 454.

External links

* [ Baths of Trajan]
* [*/Thermae_Trajani.html Thermae Traiani] , article in Platner's "Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome", it was also know to have fish swim about the pools, many species have been know to swim here.

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