The baths of Caracalla were built, as the name suggests, under the rule of emperor Caracalla at the beginning of the third century AD. The baths were built to ensure political support for Caracalla. They were open to all social classes, as the emperor sought for maximum consensus. In addition to water, culture was a protagonist in the baths: a public library was present. A wing of the library was dedicated to Greek books; a second one accommodated Latin volumes.
In the sixth century, after the Gothic wars, the baths were abandoned and its structures and statues were used to make other buildings in central Italy. The last column of the baths was extracted in 1563 by Pope Pius IV as a gift to the archduke of Tuscany, who placed it in the center of Florence, where it still stands.
Only at the beginning of the twentieth century were the baths restored, little by little. In 1960, the baths were used as a site for the Rome Olympic Games.
The baths are universally considered elegant and lavish. Their shape has inspired many more modern buildings, such as Pennsylvania Station in New York and Liverpool’s St. George’s Hall.
Since their restorations, the baths of Caracalla have hosted hundreds of opera performances and concerts of all kinds. The site became very famous in 1990, when it hosted the first concert of the three tenors (Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras) to raise funds for Carrera’s International Leukemia Foundation.
During the summertime, the central part of this wonderful historical site is used for the performances of the Rome opera company.