Baths of Caracalla - Ancient Roman Ruins. Rome, Italy.


Terme di Caracalla

Top choice in San Giovanni & Testaccio

The remains of the emperor Caracalla’s vast baths complex are among Rome’s most awe-inspiring ruins. Inaugurated in AD 212, the original 10-hectare site, which comprised baths, gyms, libraries, shops and gardens, was used by up to 8000 people daily. To evoke what the site would have looked like in its heyday, hire a virtual reality headset (€7) from the ticket office. The focal point is the central bathhouse, a huge rectangular edifice bookended by two palestre (gyms).

The bathouse was centred on a frigidarium (cold room), where bathers would stop after the warmer tepidarium and dome-capped caldarium (hot room). While the customers enjoyed the luxurious facilities, below ground hundreds of slaves sweated in a 9.5km tunnel network, tending to the complex plumbing systems.The baths remained in continuous use until AD 537, when the Visigoths cut off Rome's water supply. Excavations in the 16th and 17th centuries unearthed important sculptures, many of which found their way into the Farnese family's art collection.

In summer, the ruins are used to stage spectacular music and ballet performances.

Note that the ticket office closes one hour before the site closes.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby San Giovanni & Testaccio attractions

1. UN Food & Agriculture Organisation

0.33 MILES

Seat of the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation since 1952, this vast building was originally commissioned by Mussolini to house the Ministry of Italian…

2. Villa Celimontana

0.36 MILES

With its grassy banks and colourful flower beds, this leafy park is a wonderful place to escape the crowds and enjoy a summer picnic. At its centre is a…

3. Chiesa di Santo Stefano Rotondo


Set in its own secluded grounds, this haunting church boasts a porticoed facade and a round, columned interior. But what really gets the heart racing is…

4. Chiesa di San Gregorio al Celio

0.46 MILES

Ring for admission to this landmark church standing on the spot where Pope Gregory the Great supposedly dispatched St Augustine to convert the British…

6. Case Romane

0.49 MILES

According to tradition, two Roman soldiers, John and Paul (not to be confused with the Apostles), lived in these houses before they were beheaded by the…

7. Circo Massimo


Now a huge basin of dusty grass, Circo Massimo was ancient Rome’s largest chariot racetrack, a 250,000-seater capable of holding up to a quarter of the…

8. Palatino Entrance

0.53 MILES

About 250m down from the Colosseum, this is the main entrance/exit for the Palatino (Palatine Hill).