Baths of Agrippa

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Baths of Agrippa
Thermae Agrippa
Thermes Agrippa.jpg
General information
Town or city Rome
Country Italy
Coordinates 41°53′48.86″N 12°28′37.19″E / 41.8969056°N 12.4769972°E / 41.8969056; 12.4769972
Completed 25 B.C.
Technical details
Floor area 10,000 square meters

The Baths of Agrippa (Latin: Thermae Agrippae) was a structure of ancient Rome, built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. It was the first of the great thermae constructed in the city, and also the first Imperial Bath.


Remains of the Baths of Agrippa.

In the bath's first form, completed in 25 BC, it was a hot-air room with cold plunge pools also known as a "laconian sudatorium or gymnasium".[1] With the completion of the Aqua Virgo in 19 BC the baths were supplied with water and with the addition of a large open-air pool (Stagnum Agrippae).[2]

Between the construction and Agrippa's death the Baths were open to the public with an entrance fee charge. This charge was typically a quadran. Upon his death in 12 BC Agrippa left the baths to the citizens of Rome to use free of charge in exchange for donating various estates to Augustus, creating the first public imperial baths.[3][4]

The Baths of Agrippa were damaged along with many other structures by a large fire in 80 AD,[5] but were restored shortly thereafter by Domitian.

The thermae was enlarged under Hadrian in the second century AD[6] and later by the emperors Constantius and Constans in the fourth century AD. Sidonius Apollonaris mentions that the Baths of Agrippa were still being used in the fifth century.[7]

In 599, Pope Gregory the Great transformed the Baths into a nunnery.[8]

In the seventh century the structure (no longer in use after the Ostrogoths cut off the Roman aqueducts in the 530s) was being mined for its building materials, but much of the Baths were still standing in the sixteenth century, when the ruins were drawn by Baldassare Peruzzi and Andrea Palladio, among others.

Today just part of the circular wall of the rotunda remains.

Structure and location[edit]

Knowledge of the structure and location of the Baths of Agrippa is based on a small fragment of the Marble Plan that was discovered in 1900 as well as drawings made in the sixteenth century of the ruins while they were still standing.[2]

It was constructed on the Campus Martius along with the original Pantheon under Agrippa's large building program.[8] The area covered by the structure was about 110 meters North/South and 90 meters East/West. Along with the rest of Agrippa's buildings, the Baths were surrounded by gardens.

There was a large rotunda (Arco Della Ciambella) on the north side of the building 25 meters in diameter, that is visible in the sketches found in the seventeenth century.[2] The dome was believed to be a social gathering spot for the bathers.

The area west of the rotunda had evidence of a hypocaust system and hollow terra-cotta tiles, indicating several heated rooms.[8]


The baths were decorated with glazed Terra-cotta tile,[2] paintings,[9] and with the Apoxyomenos of Lysippus at the entrance.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cassius Dio (53.27.1)
  2. ^ a b c d (LacusCurtius website) Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (London: Oxford University Press) 1929. See also note by William Thayer.
  3. ^ Dio LIV.29.4
  4. ^ Innovation and the baths of Agrippa Simpson, C J;BRUNDETT, N G R Athenaeum; Jan 1, 1997; 85, ProQuest pg. 220
  5. ^ Cass. Dio LXVI.24:
  6. ^ Hist. Aug. Hadr. 19: Romae instauravit lavacrum Agrippae; cf. also a reference in CIL VI.9797 = AL 294
  7. ^ Regionary Catalogue (Reg. IX)
  8. ^ a b c Yegul, Fikret (1992). Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: The MIT Press. pp. 133–137. ISBN 0-262-24035-1. 
  9. ^ Pliny H.N. XXXV.26
  10. ^ Pliny H.N. XXXV.62