Diocletian Baths Frigidarium and Tepidarium (Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri Church) - Rome, Italy
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member RakeInTheCache
N 41° 54.165 E 012° 29.759
33T E 292300 N 4642010
Quick Description: Elements of the Diocletian Baths complex managed to preserve their roofs throught the Middle Ages, notably the tepidarium and central frigidarium which together became the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri.
Location: Lazio, Italy
Date Posted: 10/10/2015 10:28:02 AM
Waymark Code: WMPQZK
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member fi67
Views: 8

Long Description:
The first thing to remember is that when you are entering the church, you are actually going in the opposite direction to an ancient Roman entering the baths.

After entering the courtyard the bather would have been confronted by a façade, the middle of which concealed a large swimming pool or natatio. The apse of the church protrudes into the site of this.

To either side were the two entrances, leading to changing rooms. Straight ahead of the entrances were two colonnaded courts or palaestras where he could work out (or she, on women's days). In between these two courts was the central part of the bath complex, at the middle of which was the frigidarium. This was the cold room, a vast hall located transversely to the major axis with three cross-vaulted bays marked out by eight monolithic granite columns. This is now the main part of the church. The other side of the frigidarium from the entrance façade led into the tepidarium or warm room, which is now the church's vestibule.

Beyond that in turn was the caldarium or hot room, the heart of the whole complex. This has vanished, except for the apse connecting to the tepidarium which now has become the church's entrance.

The present small side chapels between the vestibule and transept, and between transept and presbyterium, used to be entrances to four small roofed rooms containing cold plunge pools. There used to be a wide passageway leading from the frigidarium to the natatio, and this is now occupied by the presbyterium. The columns mentioned are of red granite, quarried at Aswan in the south of Egypt and taken by boat all the way down the Nile and across the sea to Rome.

Although the interior has been changed considerably and the floor has been raised by about two metres from the ancient level, this church is one of the places where you can best appreciate the size and splendour of the imperial baths as they were before their ruination.

After 1920 the Church had a restoration which entailed the demolition of Vanvitelli's façade in order to reveal the surviving fabric of the caldarium.

When you go through the bronze entrance doors, you find yourself in a short and wide corridor. This was a passage hall in the Baths, between the caldarium (the hot bath, now mostly lost) and the tepidarium (luke-warm bath).

The transept is basically the enormous frigidarium or cold room of the baths. It should be noted here that the term frigidarium properly describes a room with a cold plunge pool, and this room did not have one. Rather, the ancient layout had four plunge pools in adjacent small rooms. Hence, some descriptions of the baths prefer the terms basilica or "central hall" for this space. It was first adapted by Michelangelo, who found it with its ancient vault substantially intact, and was then altered by Lo Duca and Vanvitelli.

The eight original granite Corinthian columns are 17.14 metres high, including bases and capitals, and have a diameter of 1.62 metres.
Most Relevant Historical Period: Roman Empire > 27 B.C.

Admission Fee: Free

Opening days/times:
7:00 am – 7:30 pm


Web Site: [Web Link]

Condition: Partly intact or reconstructed

Visit Instructions:
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Titahi & M@2t visited Diocletian Baths Frigidarium and Tepidarium (Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri Church) - Rome, Italy 8/6/2005 Titahi & M@2t visited it