The baths of Constantine

Arles - Cultural place

Date: 4th century era: ancient Type: Architecture of sports and recreation status: property of the historic city of Arles (for the clear part) class Monument (1840) the Unesco World Heritage (1981) characteristic Expression of Roman civilisation, the baths were one of the most common public places. Their success begins only at the end of the Republic and early empire: the first public baths do appear in Rome in the 1st century BC and don't develop really only at the beginning of our era, with the invention of the tepidaria.Inseparable buildings in the comforts of urban life in imperial times, the thermal baths associated physical exercises which took place on the palaestra (training Hall) to the bath ensuring personal hygiene. Every afternoon the entire population, the first women, then men observed the rite of sweating in dry, hot bath where the skin sprayed hot water was scraped to the strigil (a kind of small scraper), of the passage in the warm and the cold pool room. It ended with a vigorous massage.In addition to their hygienic function, the baths also had a strong social role and a popular meeting place. The entrance was free, or almost, could a sport, see performances, or attend the library. At Arles, we know the existence of three thermal baths. The first were discovered the Republic square in 1675 when the erection of the obelisk and are therefore today beneath this monument. Another spa construction, including the hypothetical remains plan, was built near the beginning of the 3rd century outside the walls, to the South of the city. These two institutions are the baths of Constantine described here.The success of the baths is due significantly to the invention of the tepidaria. They allowed to circulate warm air under the floor of the elevated parts through the tendons of bricks, the suspensura. The air is then evacuated through the vertical channels of the tubuli, doubling the walls. These elements are still clearly visible in the thermal baths of Arles.Most of the large thermal establishment of origin is included today in the homes of the neighborhood. Currently, only the northern part of the set has been released. It mainly concerns the hot parts and service parts. Despite the almost total disappearance of the suspensura, ground movement, one can understand quite well the Organization of that party, whose main element is the caldarium, the warm room with its vaulted pool. The construction punctuated by an alternation of courses of bricks and of small limestone rubble very regular revolves around a semi-circular demi-abside lit by three tall windows arches, covered by a great oven ass Vault. Two rectangular pools were part and another of the central room, which, to the East, has still its pavement of marble and a part of the tubuli. Several homes were used to heat the caldarium. A real piece of heating was located in the northeast corner of the building, as well as a home in the southwest corner of the room to the South.The caldarium communicated by two doors with a terraced room South, room warm or tepidarium. Completely devoid of its soil, it however retains a Western apse, recently excavated and backfilled pending a restoration. To the East, remains another hot room, probably the laconicum or Proofer.The rest of the complex has not been released. The houses immediately adjacent to the site, to the South, massively remploient the walls of the frigidarium, cold bath. Relics sometimes remarkably preserved, to describe it as a large rectangular room bounded on the ends in an apse.

Information provided by OT Arles

Where to stay

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