Rome’s monumental Baths of Diocletian (Terme di Diocleziano) are an interesting site worth visiting. Commissioned by Emperor Maximiam to honor his co-emperor, Diocletian, this 3rd-century-AD imperial facility was in use as the public baths for just over 200 years. Abandoned and neglected following the 6th-century Gothic War, the remaining buildings were later renovated according to designs by famed Italian artist Michelangelo Buonarroti and the facility put to use as a Carthusian monastery. Subsequent use of various buildings in the complex included a planetarium and warehouses for grain storage. Today, the former Baths of Diocletian are home to the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels and Martyrs and – since the late-19th century – a branch of the National Roman Museum (Museo Nazionale Romano).
Inspired by both the Baths of Trajan and of Caracalla, the Baths of Diocletian were reportedly the largest of Ancient Rome, covering an area of just over 32 acres and equipped to accomodate up to 3000 people. The complex consisted of a series of chambers and pools heated or cooled to varying degrees; among these were the calderium (an outdoor bath heated by the sun), the indoor frigidarium and tepidarium (cold and warm water baths now the site of the present-day Basilica), an outdoor natatio (swimming pool), as well as a gymnasium, lecture halls, libraries, theaters, and gardens.
Entrance to the museum complex is via a lush sculpture garden (behind the basilica) where you’ll walk amidst numerous funerary steles, remnants of stone columns, and several limbless and headless statues.
At the center of the garden you’ll see the fountain of the giant urn (cratere colossale).
Start your tour of the museum in the recently renovated main building, where the entrance corridor with barrel-vaulted ceiling and spacious and modern ground floor galleries house several busts and statues, such as:
a post-antique bust inspired by the Capitoline Brutus,
a long skinny votive statue,
a group of three female statues,
and an exhibit on Written Communication of the Romans. Displayed here are fragments of inscribed architraves, friezes, pedestals, and stone tablets, such as:
a fragment of a relief honoring Sol Invictus.
The elegant marble stairs lead to the upper level of the museum and an exhibit dedicated to the Protohistory of the Latin Peoples. The collection here presents information on building techniques and burial and cult practices of early Roman settlements. Items on display include:
a human skeleton, jewelry, tools, weapons, and other votive offerings,
a vast collection of clay pots and jars, as well as burial urns used to store cremated human remains,