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Ancient Rome

Roman Baths

History >> Ancient Rome

Every Roman city had a public bath where people came to bathe and socialize. The public bath was something like a community center where people worked out, relaxed, and met with other people.

Sketch of oil and scrapers used in a Roman Bath
Oil and Scrapers
Source: Encylopedia Britannica, 1911
Getting Clean

The main purpose of the baths was a way for the Romans to get clean. Most Romans living in the city tried to get to the baths every day to clean up. They would get clean by putting oil on their skin and then scraping it off with a metal scraper called a strigil.


The baths were also a place for socializing. Friends would meet up at the baths to talk and have meals. Sometimes men would hold business meetings or discuss politics.

Did you have to pay to get in?

There was a fee to get into the public baths. The fee was generally pretty small so even the poor could afford to go. Sometimes the baths would be free as a politician or emperor would pay for the public to attend.

Drawing of person sitting at side of cold pool in the frigidarium
The Frigidarium by Overbeck
A Typical Roman Bath

The typical Roman bath could be quite large with a number of different rooms.
Some baths were so big they had multiple hot and cold baths. They also might have a library, a food service, a garden, and a reading room.

Private Baths

Wealthy people sometimes had their own private baths inside their homes. These could be quite expensive as they had to pay the government for the amount of water that they used. Even if a wealthy person had their own bath, they still likely visited the public baths in order to be social and meet with people.

How did they get water to the baths?

The Romans built aqueducts to carry fresh water from lakes or rivers to the cities. Roman engineers constantly monitored the water levels and aqueducts to make sure that there was enough water for the city and the baths. They even had underground pipes and sewage systems. Wealthy people were able to have running water in their homes.

Interesting Facts About Ancient Roman Baths
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Works Cited

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