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A glimpse on a bath’s history
Thermeas is a name that describes a complex of Roman baths located in a wide area accessible to everybody within its opening hours. At the entrance, in the lobby, casparius collected fees and deposited valuable possession. Ancient thermeas consisted of the following chambers:
* cloak room (apodyterium)
* pool with cold water (frigidarium)
* pool with hot water (calidarium)
* Saunas: dry (laconicum) or steam (sudationes)
* massage chambers (oleoterion), where body was oiled.
* rest room(tepidarium)
Thermeas were supplied with water by aqueducts. Usually, thermeas were richly decorated; walls were laid with red travertine and decorated with frescos. Pool chambers and rest rooms were heated by the warm air circulating under the floor. This heating system is called hypocaustum. Apart from the already mentioned chambers, there were also other chambers like a portico for women willing to rest and converse, music chambers, buffets or play rooms. Buildings were located in a green area, chambers were laid with marble, decorated with frescos and floor mosaics. Sculptures and plants could be found inside. Guests rested on white marble benches in rest rooms with fountains
The oldest Thermea, dated from 2nd Century BC, was discovered in Pompeii. Thermeas became very popular in 1st Century BC when huge resort came to life. The famous ones were built by emperors Titus, Domitian, Caracalla, Diocletian and Constantine, not only in Rome but in the whole area of the Roman Empire (i.e. in Patara in I Century BC, in Paris and Hierapolis in II and III Century, Trewir and Aleksandria in IV Century).
Traditional bath in history
Bath is just an action. Every day we quickly take a bath and we do it without any special celebration. We forget that this action can give pleasure, relaxation and health. Long ago, baths were a symbol of spiritual purification, vitality and revitalization. Ancient heroes took baths as often as they could. It is goddess Athena who made the water spurted out from the grounds of Thermopiles, so that Heracles could regain his strength. Bath had an ability to give back virginity to Aphrodite and Hera.
In ancient Egypt, priests celebrated the rituals during days and in nights. The first, very elegant, public bath houses were built in Lesser Asia. Baths became also very popular in ancient Greece. Greeks took baths sometimes few times per day and spent in Thermeas long hours on treatments, philosophical discussions and feasts. Visits to baths were connected with body building as Thermeas were very often a part of traditional gymnasia.
Roman Thermeas were, above all, a place of relaxation, pleasure and entertainment. Rich Roman citizens built baths within their estates. Those thermeas were exquisite and luxurious, richly decorated with works of art, sculptures, marbles and silver or porphyry bathtubs. Romans also loved leading long philosophical discussions, to share the latest gossips and to feast. First thermeas were built when aqueduct was invented and they quickly became very popular.
Bath culture was developing rapidly in medieval times, when it became a part of the most important ceremonies: knight accolade, coronation, etc. Many districts of Paris had their own steam baths that were the centre of social and cultural life of the city. “People who use baths are usually very healthy and always ready for a love affair” - said the famous philosopher, T.Pogge. Everybody used baths: women and men, young and elderly, even monks - what was so surprising for T.Poggy: “Men were observing women from the balconies and it was the subject of jokes. Women used to organize feats on the floating dining tables and invite men.” This is why he loved baths and spent so much time visiting them.
Polish baths were a little bit different, at least in the XVI century; there was a strict division by sex in baths. Once private bathtubs became more popular, the amount of baths decreased; only in the north- east part of the country baths survived to give pleasure, heath and fun.
Dark days for the bath culture came with the beginning of Renaissance. The underwear was invented, also priest condemned baths and habits of their guests. In this time, it was believed that woman should not wash themselves but use perfumes to be attractive. Baths were replaced by cosmetic, medical and washing services like shaving, cupping etc. Only courtesans still took regular baths.
However, people did not forget easily about pleasures of baths. In the second part of the XVIII century, thermeas became very popular again. New establishments were founded with many new kinds of baths; there were luxury baths for rich people but also ones more accessible for the poorer part of society or whole families. The perfect example is the Baths-boat on the river of Seine. After a breakdown of this boat, its owner built a huge two-level floating baths with 140 bathtubs. Once again, baths offered not only washing but also hairdressing, massages, food and physical exercises (billiard, badminton). Again, baths started to play an important social role. But the XIX century was a real breakthrough for the industry and the dark days were forgotten; ancient and medieval bath culture was re-acknowledged as this was actually medieval ages when hygiene was in the spotlight.
Do we not need such culture in the contemporary world? Do we not need relax, rest and purification of body and mind? We have a great pleasure to offer all these baths, saunas, massages and treatments in our unique Wellness and Spa Centre of Saturn Palace.