What better way to relax after a long and particularly stressful day of work than a nice hot bath? Light some candles, add a soothing bath bomb to the warm steaming water, maybe even pour yourself cool glass of pinot grigio. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? The ancient Romans use to bath every single day, and they knew how to do it in style. Oh, and they did it in public.
Public baths were a mainstay of Roman culture. Not a day would go by without your average Roman citizen taking a trip to the bathhouse. In major cities like Athens, Rome, Sparta, or Carthage these bathhouses were massive sprawling complexes not dissimilar to today’s mega-gym. Citizens did not visit bathhouse just to bath. They were also social hubs where people would come to meet, talk, eat, workout, even get their hair done! A standard bathhouses had many of the following rooms:
- Notation – The notation was an open air room with a large swimming pool. This swimming pool could be used for relaxation or exercise. Unlike many of the pools in the bathhouse, the notation was not temperature controlled.
- Apodyterium – This was the locker room of the ancient Roman bathhouse. Visitors would come here to change and store their belongings.
- Frigidarium – The largest and most important room of the bathing complex. The frigidarium was a cool room with cold-water baths.
- Laconica/sudatoria – These superheated rooms were designed as both dry and wet sweating-rooms similar to modern saunas and steam rooms.
- Calidarium – The Calidarium was the location of the warmest pools in the bathhouse. It was similar in function and form to a modern hot tub.
Many of these features must seem eerily similar to anyone who has ever set foot into a Lifetime Fitness or equivalent super-gym. It just goes to show, over 2000 years ago, the ancient Romans had already figure out the secrets of a good life.