The Antonine Baths - History and Facts | History Hit

The Antonine Baths

Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia

One of the largest ancient bath complexes ever built, the ruins of the second century Antonine Baths are a real treasure to explore.

Lucy Davidson

30 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Antonine Baths

As the largest set of Roman thermae built on the African continent and one of the three largest built in the Roman Empire, the Antonine Baths were a huge Roman bath complex in ancient Carthage, Tunisia. Today, the well-preserved ruins are a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History of the Antonine Baths

Originally built from 145 to 165 AD, primarily during the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, the Antonine Baths were among the largest baths to be built in the Roman world and were the largest such complex in North Africa.

The baths could cater for a multitude of visitors and contained a number of rooms and chambers standard to such ancient bath complexes, including the Frigidarium (cold room), Caldarium (hot room) and Tepidarium (hot bath). There was once also an enormous seaside swimming pool as well as a Gymnasium for physical activity.

The baths were destroyed by the Vandals in 439 AD, and the stone was reused by the Arabs during the construction of Tunis. Today, the ruins are relatively well-preserved, and it is easy to imagine the thriving landscape.

The Antonine Baths Today

Although the baths would have once been many stories high, the remains that can be seen today are primarily of the lower levels only. Nonetheless, it is not difficult to imagine the scale and grandeur that the baths would have commanded from what is still visible.

To the southwest a huge semi-circular construction was discovered with around 80 seats, which archaeologists first thought to be a theatre, before realising that it was, in fact, a communal latrine!

The fascinating ruins of the Antonine Baths are certainly worth exploring and, with the picturesque sea as a backdrop, are surrounded with natural beauty. The overgrown garden contain other remains such as Punic tombs and a tiny early Christian funerary chapel with a mosaic floor.

Getting to the Antonine Baths

From the centre of Carthage, the baths are a scenic 4 minute drive or 25 minute walk via Route de La Goulette. Also worth visiting nearby is the Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage and the Carthage Roman Villas and Kobba Bent el Rey.

 

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