Diocleziano's Baths, 306 AD
The bathing complex of the Baths of Diocleziano, built between 298 and 306 AD, occupied an area of 380 x 370 meters (1250 x 1215 ft).
The complex, the largest ever built in the Roman world, as well as the largest construction in the city, could host about three thousand people.
For the Romans, the bath represented a social event of absolute importance and the baths reflected the value of the Emperor.
It was the Emperor Diocleziano, who reigned between the years 284 and 305 AD. to want a gigantic public bathing facility that would serve the Roman people.
The area was one of the most densely populated in the city.
In plan, the Baths of Diocleziano take up the structure of the Baths of Caracalla, with a central block placed in the middle of a larger enclosure, almost square in shape.
A branch of the Marcia water aqueduct (Aqua Iovia) provided the immense building which was divided into the large swimming pool (natatio), the frigidarium, the tepidarium and the calidarium.
The baths were more than a personal hygiene facility (most Roman homes did not have a bathroom), but also a popular place to meet, socialize, do business, laze, relax and discuss politics and sport.
It is also for this reason that many emperors commissioned the construction of thermal complexes in Rome, with the aim of gaining popularity and immortalizing their name.
The huge complex was prosperously adorned with sculptures, granite basins.
A visit to the baths wasn’t just for relaxation. People used to come here to socialize, tell daily events, gossip and debate political topics.
It was also a fitness and leisure center.
The Baths of Diocleziano boasted various services such as sports facilities, a large exedra with steps, perhaps used for theatrical performances, libraries and meeting rooms.
Men and women dived separately.
Like many ancient buildings in Rome, after the fall of the Empire the baths were abandoned and fell into ruin until, in 1561, Pope Pius IV commissioned Michelangelo to renovate them, so that they housed a Carthusian monastery and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angels and Martyrs.
The buildings designed by Michelangelo visible today include a cloister of 10,000 square meters, Chiostro Grande or Chiostro di Michelangelo, a smaller cloister, also known as the Chiostro Ludovisi, and the Basilica.
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