Ancyra, Baths of Caracalla

Ancyra (Greek Ἄνκυρα): town in central Anatolia, modern Ankara.

Baths of Caracalla

Built on the site of an earlier Iron Age and Roman site, Ancyra’s Colonnaded Street (which led to the Temple of Augustus) was one of the city’s main monuments. Much of it is still unexcavated but the columns along the street appear to date back to the second and third century CE.

During the reign of the emperor Caracalla (r.211-217), a bathhouse was added by a wealthy inhabitant of Ancyra, Tiberius Julius Justus Junianus, who is mentioned in inscriptions. Popularly known as the “baths of Caracalla”, this complex remained in use for at least five centuries, as we can deduce from coin finds.

The bathhouse was also built on the earlier settlement, which explains why it is on a hill of about two, three meters high. It was fairly typical: apodyteria (dressing rooms), a frigidarium (cold water bath), a tepidarium (tepid water), a caldarium (warm water). Still, it must be noted that the tepidarium and caldarium were unusually large, which is perhaps logical in a city with cold winters.

As was common, there was a square palaestra in front of the bathhouse: a training ground, where people could exercise or wrestle. It was surrounded by porticoes with four times thirty-two columns.