The Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla are the remains of what was once one of the grandest and most elaborate bath complexes in Italy. It dates from the early third century AD and was begun by Septimus Severus in 206 and inaugurated in 217 by his violent and fratricidal son, Caracalla. One of the largest bathing complexes ever built, Caracalla’s baths could fit up to 1500 bathers at any time, getting through an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 cubic meters of fresh water a day, which was brought in from the hills near Subiaco via a special branch of the Aqua Marcia aqueduct. Viale Terme di Caracalla 52 (Tel: 06 39967700). The baths can be reached from the metro stations Circo Massimo or Piramide, both on Linea B. The baths are open Tuesday – Sunday from 9am until one hour before sunset, and on Monday morning from 9am-1pm. Entrance costs €6 and the ticket, valid for seven days, can also be used for entrance to the Villa dei Quintili and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella.
The Circus Maximus, known in Italian as Circo Massimo, has been a site of public entertainment since the time of the Etruscan kings. It was first developed during the period of the Republic; Julius Caesar expanded it to the 600 metre racetrack of which the outline remains today. The Circus Maximus is still used for public spectacles today: the Rome leg of the Live 8 Concerts took place here, other bands regurlarly play in the park, and the funeral of pope John Paul II was relayed on large screens to crowds that filled one end of the circus. From the Colosseum, head south along Via di San Gregorio. It’s a two minute walk. If you’re coming by metro, get off at the stop Circo Massimo on Linea B.
Built between 70 and 80 AD, the Colosseum is one of the most internationally recognised symbols of Rome. It takes its name from an ancient statue, the Colossus of Nero, which stood nearby. The Colosseum is open from 8.30 am until one hour before sunset, every day except Christmas day and January 1st. Tickets cost €12 (including a €3 exhibition charge) standard, €7.50 reduced rate. Tickets for the Colosseum also allow access to the Palatine Hill and the Forum. They are valid for two days, although only once for each site: you may want to visit the Colosseum one day, and devote the next morning to exploring the Palatine and the Forum.
The Imperial Forums occupy the large field of archaeological rubble that lies between the Capitoline hill and the Colosseum. Although almost all of the buildings are entirely ruined, with a little imagination it is still possible to get a lot of pleasure out of a trip to the forum. If you want to understand what’s what, you will need to take a good map or at least eavesdrop on the many tour guides. The nearest metro station to the forums is Colosseo on Linea B. When you come out, walk straight ahead past the Colosseum and then turn right onto Via Sacra. The forum can also be approached from the far end at the Capitoline hill, which offers an excellent view of the layout. As of March 2008, entrance to the Forum is no longer free, but is included on the joint ticket for the Colosseum / Palatine Hill.