When the Romans talked about civilising the world they weren’t only talking of conquest and military might. In fact, they saw the tactic of exporting their lifestyle as a key weapon in their subjugation of others – and nothing represented this better than Roman baths.
Often free to use and available to the whole populace, these ancient Roman baths were a crucial aspect of daily life in the Empire. Usually consisting of the caldarium (hot bath), the tepidarium (warm bath) and the frigidarium (cold bath), bathing was seen as a central part of the normal routine for people in Roman times. After the fall of Rome it would be hundreds of years before people took bathing so seriously again!
Not only seen as a way to keep people happy, Roman baths were also a grand symbol of the superior nature of Roman civilisation. Often vast structures, Roman baths also relied on the comprehensive system of Roman aqueducts and water storage and sewerage systems which stood unmatched right up to modern times.
Nowadays, a number of these amazing Roman baths have survived, some in places which may surprise you. Indeed, a number of these bath complexes are so well preserved that a visit to them will leave you simply astounded. Read on to discover the best surviving Roman baths of the world…
Only recently starting to creep out of Pompeii’s shadow, the fascinating ruins of Herculaneum contain two of the best preserved Roman baths in the world – the Forum baths and the Suburban baths. These are probably the best Roman baths found anywhere.
Herculaneum was a port town established by the ancient Romans in what is now modern Ercolano, Italy. At its peak, Herculaneum would have had around 4,000 citizens and served as a holiday town for wealthy Campanians and Romans. Like nearby Pompeii, Herculaneum was engulfed by the lava and mud which spewed... Read More
The Lucinian Baths at Dougga, also called the Baths of Caracalla, are a genuinely impressive example of surviving Roman baths. Quite a site to see, the towering walls and other structures have survived pretty much intact.
Dougga (Thugga) in Tunisia is the location of the extremely well-preserved ruins of an ancient site inhabited by a series of cultures, notably the Numidians, the Punics, the ancient Greeks and the Romans. Dougga boasts a series of impressive ruins amidst its seventy hectares, including a 3,500-seater theatre, an amphitheatre, temples... Read More
Among the most impressive Roman baths found anywhere in the world, the huge Baths of Caracalla in Rome are simply astounding – check out the streetview option in our entry for this site and take a virtual walkthrough!
The Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla in Italian) are an ancient Roman public baths complex in Rome, the incredible remains of which are one of the very best ancient sites in Rome. It was the Emperor Septimius Severus who began building the Baths of Caracalla in 206 AD, but they... Read More
Ranked among the most famous Roman baths, this complex led to the naming of the very city in which it is now found. Boasting a combination of well-preserved remains mixed with some 19th century additions, it’s one of the best examples of Roman baths to have survived.
The world famous Roman Baths complex in Bath, UK, contains an incredible set of thermal spas and an impressive ancient Roman bathing house. First discovered in the nineteenth century, the Roman Baths are one of the best preserved ancient Roman sites in the UK and form a major tourist attraction. Among the... Read More
The Antonine Baths ranked among the biggest Roman baths to have ever been constructed and were the largest such complex in North Africa. Much remains to be explored, though only the lower levels have survived.
The Antonine Baths was a huge Roman bath complex in ancient Carthage, the well-preserved ruins of which can still be viewed today. Originally built from 145 to 165 AD, mostly during the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, the Antonine Baths were among the largest baths to be... Read More
The largest Roman baths ever built, the Baths of Diocletian in Rome could hold up to 3,000 people and boasted vast frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium chambers as well as a host of other facilities. Various elements survive - some standing as grand ruins while others have been incorporated into other buildings.
Once the largest ancient baths complex in the world, the Baths of Diocletian – or Terme di Diocleziano – was built between 298AD and 306AD in honour of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Set out along the traditional model of a Roman baths complex, the Baths of Diocletian contained a frigidarium (cold... Read More
One of the more unexpected entries in our Roman baths list is the Imperial Baths of Trier. Believed to be the biggest Roman bath complex outside Rome, many of the original walls still stand and there’s even the option to explore the ancient underground tunnels.
The Imperial Baths of Trier, known in German as Kaiserthermen, are the beautifully preserved ruins of a Roman public bath complex constructed in the fourth century AD. Considered to be the largest Roman baths outside of Rome, the remains of the Imperial Baths of Trier are centrally located within the city... Read More
Little remains of the baths at Aizanoi, though two separate bath complexes have been identified here. However, visitors can see some interesting mosaics within these ruins.
Aizanoi is a Turkish archaeological site housing mostly Roman remains from this ancient city’s peak in the second and third centuries AD. Amongst its ruins, Aizanoi has five ancient and still used bridges, two Turkish-style baths, column-lined promenades, a stadium, a gymnasium, a theatre and its great Temple of Zeus.... Read More
Though boasting quite a large a set of thermal baths, little remains of the original structure of this ancient bath complex. However, the remains of the hypocaust heating system can still be seen and are quite impressive.
Aventicum is an impressive ancient Roman site in Switzerland which was the thriving capital of the Helvetians. It is unclear as to exactly when Aventicum was founded, but it reached its peak between the 1st century BC and 5th century AD, during its time as capital of the region... Read More
The picturesque Roman site of Baelo Claudia contains a partially preserved bath house of which a reasonable amount of the structure survives. However, visiting this site is worth it for the view alone!
The Roman city of Baelo Claudia in Andalusia is one of the best surviving examples of an ancient Roman town in Spain. Sitting directly on the coast, Baelo Claudia is a beautiful site to visit, with both stunning views and ancient ruins. The remains of Baelo Claudia, near the modern town... Read More
Little remains of this rare example of Roman ruins in Scotland – this ancient bath house was a second century complex which would have served one of the forts of The Antonine Wall. Today, the remains are located innocuously in the middle of a modern housing estate.
The Bearsden Bath House was a second century Roman bath complex which would have served one of the forts of The Antonine Wall. Today, the remains of the Bearsden Bath House - located innocuously in the middle of a modern housing estate - represent some of the best of this Roman... Read More
The Budapest Bath Museum also known as Thermae Maiores contains the remains of the Roman baths complex which served Roman troops in ancient Aquincum.
The Budapest Bath Museum (Thermae Maiores) houses the ruins of the Roman baths complex of the military base that existed on this site from the first to the fourth centuries AD. It would have formed part of the Roman city of Aquincum, which served as the capital of the... Read More
Within the ruins of this ancient Roman city lie the remains of the public baths, which themselves also include a paleo-Christian baptistery and a 9th century basilica. While not fully intact, these Roman baths are reasonably well-preserved.
Butrint is an archaeological national park in Albania and a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its ancient ruins dating back as far as the 7th century BC. In fact, classic mythology says that exiles moved to Butrint to escape following the fall of Troy. Originally part of an area called... Read More
Caerleon Roman Fortress is home to the remains of an impressive 1st century fortress baths. Visitors can view the ruins and reconstructions of the baths as well as a detailed model of their original design. The museum also has a great collection of artifacts recovered from the bath drains.
Caerleon Roman Fortress is home to the impressive remains of a first century Roman legionary barracks, fortifications, amphitheatre and baths. In fact, they are said to be Europe’s only such barracks on display. Built in approximately 75AD, the Caerleon Roman Fortress was known as Isca and would have been... Read More
The ruins of Chesters Roman Fort contain the remains of a Roman bathhouse which would have served the garrison on Hadrian’s Wall – a reconstruction can be seen at Segedunum Museum.
Chesters Roman Fort, originally known as Cilurnum, was built as part of Hadrian’s Wall, the famous 73-mile barrier constructed under the remit of the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD. The role of the 600 soldiers garrisoned at Chesters Roman Fort was to guard a bridge across the Rover Tyne which... Read More
One of Portugal’s best Roman sites, the remains at the public baths include their hypocaust heating systems, decorative mosaics and the frigidarium (cold room), caldarium (hot room), the tepidarium (warm room) as well as the remains of the praefurnium (heating or furnace room). The site contains three bath areas, Great Southern Baths, Baths of the Wall, Baths of the Aqueduct.
Conimbriga is probably Portugal’s best-preserved Ancient Roman archaeological site, although it has a history stretching back to the Iron Age. In fact, while the Romans arrived at Conimbriga in the late first century BC, the settlement had been inhabited since the ninth century BC. Whilst almost certainly not the biggest of... Read More
Believed to have been one of three sets of baths serving Roman Arles, the Constantine Baths would have formed part of the imperial palace known as Palais Constantine. Pretty well preserved, much of the outer structure survives and this is definitely worth a visit.
The Constantine Baths (Thermes de Constantin) are a well preserved set of ancient Roman public baths in the Provence town of Arles. Dating back to the fourth century AD, the Constantine Baths would once have formed part of an imperial palace known as Palais Constantine. It is also thought that... Read More
With a history dating back to the Iron Age, Cumae contains a series of ancient ruins and artefacts among which are the remains of a second century AD public baths complex.
Cumae Archaeological Park in Pozzuoli houses a series of ancient ruins and artefacts and is thought to have been inhabited as far back as the Iron Age. Cumae itself was a settlement established by Greek colonists in the eighth century BC. Sacked by the Oscans in the fifth century BC and... Read More
The ruins of the ancient town of Cyrene include the second century AD Trajan Baths, which though quite large, have not survived particularly well. Keep an eye out for the interesting inscription stones.
Cyrene in Libya is considered to be one of the most impressive Greco-Roman sites in the world and one of the best Classical Greek sites beyond Greece itself. Traditionally said to have been founded by the Greeks of Thera in 631BC, Cyrene was a trading hub first inhabited by the Battiadae... Read More
The Grand Baths at Djemila are in a reasonable state, though they are certainly not the most impressive site at this former ancient city and don’t rank alongside the more famous Roman baths of the world.
Djemila in Algeria is an archaeological site housing the ruins of a UNESCO-inscribed Ancient Roman settlement. Founded under the name Cuicil, it is thought that Djemila was first established between 96 and 98 AD under the Emperor Nerva and occupied until the fifth or sixth century. Constructed amidst mountainous terrain, Djemila... Read More
Not ranking among the best Roman baths of the world, a little imagination is necessary to really understand the baths at Glanum, as little survives of the original structure. One highlight though is the stone mask fountain through which water would have flowed.
Glanum was a thriving Ancient Roman settlement, the impressive remains of which can now be seen in an archaeological site near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Whilst there is some evidence to show that this site has been occupied since the first millennium BC, most of the sites at Glanum date back to between... Read More
A small roman baths complex in Marbella, Spain, the second or third century AD Guadalmina Roman Baths are nonetheless interesting to explore.
The Guadalmina Roman Baths, known locally as Las Bovedos, meaning “The Domes”, are the ruins of a small Roman baths complex in Marbella. Located near the beach, the Guadalmina Roman Baths are comprised of seven stone rooms built in an octagonal shape and probably date to the second or third century... Read More
Certainly a more obscure entry on our Roman baths list, the underground bath complex at Haidra in Tunisia contains a number of chambers and corridors which you can still wander around freely. A little hidden gem.
One of the earliest Roman settlements in North Africa, Haidra in Tunisia contains the remains of the Roman city of Ammaedara. Well off the beaten track, Haidra – also called Hydrah – attracts few tourists and even the archaeological excavations have been few and far between. Founded in the first century... Read More
Among the Roman remains at Histria lie the ruins of the public baths, which have only partly survived but are still an interesting example to view.
Histria, close to the city of Constanta in Romania is an archaeological park housing ruins which date throughout Romania’s history. Histra was once a harbour, first occupied by the Ancient Greeks in 675 BC. Under the Greeks, it flourished into a centre of trade, specialising in ceramics, glass and metals.... Read More
The baths at Kourion are some of the best remains found at the site and contain a number of interesting mosaics as well as the remains of the hypocaust heating system.
Kourion, also known as Curium, is an impressive archaeological site near Limassol in Cyprus containing mostly Ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins. In fact, it is believed that the site of Kourion was first inhabited during Neolithic times, with the earliest evidence dating back to 4500-3900 BC, but that the town itself... Read More
A lesser known entry on our Roman baths list, the Lugo Roman Baths are located within a hotel in the Spanish town of Lugo. Visitors can still see the changing rooms - the apodyterium - and there are several other remains, including arches and a bathing room.
The Lugo Roman Baths were built in approximately 15BC, around the time when the city was founded and remain well-preserved. As with all such bathing complexes, the Lugo Roman Baths attracted Romans by virtue of their believed healing powers, in particular the properties of the water which they drew from the... Read More
Built in the second or third centuries AD, this relatively obscure Roman baths complex is quite hard to find and contains the partially-restored remains of the baths which served Roman Lugdunum.
The Lyon Roman Baths are thought to have been built in the second or third centuries AD. The ancient bath complex would served ancient Lugdunum, as the city was known during the Roman period, when it was an important regional capital of the Roman Empire. Only found in the 1970’s and then... Read More
The Roman baths at Mirobriga are fairly well preserved and form quite a large bath complex. In many places the hypocaust system has been exposed and is interesting to view.
Mirobriga was once a thriving Roman town, the ruins of which can now be seen in Portugal. Believed to date back to the first century AD, the remains of Mirobriga are quite extensive, well preserved and include a forum and the country’s only surviving Hippodrome - once the site of fierce... Read More
What is now a museum was once an ancient baths complex and represents some of the best remains of Roman Paris. Much of the outer structure of these Roman baths survive, known as Thermes de Cluny, and the museum itself provides a guide to the layout of the baths.
Musee de Cluny in Paris is steeped in both medieval and Ancient Roman history. Officially known as Musée National du Moyen Âge – the National Museum of the Middle Ages - Musee de Cluny has an impressive collection, including Roman statues, gothic sculptures, a treasury filled with the works of... Read More
The baths at Nora probably date to the second or third centuries AD but are in a relatively poor state of preservation.
The Nora Archaeological Site in Sardinia contains mostly Ancient Roman ruins, but was founded in at least the 8th century BC by the Phoenicians. Some Phoenician ruins can be seen, including a temple and some fortifications. Prior to Phoenician settlement, Nora may have even previously been a nuraghi site (the people... Read More
While impressive in their own right – with remains including the caldarium, tepidarium and the frigidarium – the most striking elements of the Baths of Neptune at Ostia are the impressive black-and-white mosaics, particularly the mosaic of Neptune himself.
Ostia Antica is an extraordinary Roman site that contains the ruins of the ancient port town that served as the gateway to Rome. Just half an hour from central Rome by train, Ostia Antica has all the inspiration of Pompeii without the throngs of tourists. In fact, if you want to... Read More
Little survives of the once great Baths of Diocletian of Palmyra – a few standing columns hint at what once was. However, it’s still worth a look for those visiting this ancient city and there’s so much more to see there that it could never be a waste of time.
Along with many other historical sites in the region, the ancient site of Palmyra is reported to have been heavily damaged in the current conflicts. This page remains as it was originally created in 2011 and will stand as a live-archived article until it is again possible to assess the... Read More
Containing one of the more impressive Roman bath complexes to have survived, the baths at Perge still retain much of the outer structure, the underground heating system and the remains of the tepidarium (warm room) and frigidarium (cold bath chamber).
The ancient city of Perge near Antalya in Turkey is now an impressive archaeological site containing a wealth of ancient ruins, mostly dating back to the Roman period, though the city itself has a history dating back well into antiquity. The current city is said to have been founded in circa... Read More
Once the largest building in the city, the Roman Baths at Sagalassos were a mighty affair. One interesting attribute is the remains of the praefurnium (heating room) of the second tepidarium. There’s quite a bit to see at these baths and it’s certainly worth exploring.
Sagalassos is an active archaeological site in southwest Turkey which contains mostly Hellenistic and Ancient Roman historic ruins, some of them very well preserved. In particular, the Fountain of Antoninler at Sagalassos still has its pretty facade. There are also the remains of a 9,000 seat theatre, a council hall... Read More
Though not containing the ruins of a bath complex itself, Segedunum fort and museum includes a reconstructed Roman bath house based on the remains found at nearby Chesters Roman Fort, part of Hadrian’s Wall.
Segedunum Roman Fort was one of the ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall, the iconic UNESCO-listed barrier built under the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD. There were several wall forts along the 73-mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, each garrisoned by Roman soldiers. From around 122 AD, Segedunum Roman Fort held... Read More
A lesser-known entry on our list of Roman baths, this former Roman city in modern Macedonia contains the remains of a small bath complex, known as the Thermae Minores, or ‘Little Baths’.
Stobi is one of Macedonia’s most famous archaeological sites. Once the capital of the kingdom of Paeonia, Stobi was located along a busy trade route and thrived as a commercial hub specialising in the trade of salt. Stobi reached its peak in the third or fourth century AD. Whilst the first... Read More
Though not as well preserved as the nearby Imperial Baths, Trier’s Barbara Baths are nonetheless worth exploring with the best part of this site being the chance to wander the subterranean service tunnels.
The Barbara Baths (Barbarathermen) in Trier are a set of ruins of a second century Roman baths complex. A little of the original Barbara Baths can be seen above ground today, but this pales in comparison to the Imperial Baths of Trier. This is due to the fact that most... Read More
This sprawling Roman site contains the remains of no less than fourteen bath complexes. While these sites aren’t wonderfully preserved, many contain interesting remains such as the underground heating systems which were used within them.
The ruins of Timgad in Algeria are an impressive set of ancient Roman remains and rank among the best such ruins in North Africa. Founded by the Emperor Trajan in 100 AD, the settlement of Timgad, then known as Thamugas, was probably a base for the Third Augustan Legion. Timgad was... Read More
The Roman Baths at Varna in Bulgaria contain some great ancient remains, including partially intact outer walls and covered corridors and tunnels. There are also the various bath house chambers, from the cold water frigidarium to the hot water caldarium and tepidarium as well as the sports hall. They are thought to be one of the largest Roman bath complexes in Europe.
Varna Archaeological Museum (Varnenski Arheologicheski Muzey) houses over 100,000 items from a variety of historic periods, including the prehistoric, the Thracian, ancient Roman and Greek times, the medieval period and from the Ottoman Empire.... Read More
Velia Archaeological Site contains the ruins of the city’s second century AD Roman baths along with the mosaics which decorated this complex.
The Velia Archaeological Site (Scavi di Velia) in Campania houses the remains of a Greek colony turned Roman municipality. Velia was originally founded by a Greek community as the colony of “Elea” in 540 BC. With the help of prominent citizens and philosophers Zeno and Parmenides (the latter having founded... Read More
This famous Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall contains the remains of the military bath house which would have been used by Roman soldiers and must have provided some relief to those troops more used to warmer climes. Only the lower half of the structure has survived.
Vindolanda was one of the main Ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall, the 73-mile barrier built by the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD. However, Vindolanda is thought to have been inhabited by the Romans from 85 AD, following the victory of the Roman Governor Agricola at the Battle of Mons... Read More
Little-known outside the local area, the Welwyn Roman Baths are actually found beneath a highway in a specially constructed chamber put in place to protect the remains. The ruins are those of a small baths complex which were originally part of a larger private villa.
The Welwyn Roman Baths complex houses the remains of a Roman bathhouse dating back to the 3rd century AD. Originally part of a larger Roman Villa, the Welwyn Roman Baths are housed in a unique environment - an underground chamber built nine metres below the A1(M) motorway. Excavations took place before... Read More
The second century AD public baths are among the most remarkable remains of this former Roman settlement.
Wroxeter Roman City is an impressive Ancient Roman site in Shropshire. It houses the remains of what was once known as Viroconium, at one time Roman Britain’s fourth largest city. In fact, Viroconium was initially a first Century garrisoned fort which evolved into a city. Around 5,000 people lived in Viroconium... Read More
The baths at the archaeological park in Xanten are contained within a protective canopy within the museum complex. While not particularly well preserved compared to some other bath complexes, they are nevertheless worth a look.
Xanten Archaeological Park (Archaologischer Park Xanten) houses the remains of the former Roman settlement of Colonia Ulpia Traiana. The area of the park was first garrisoned by Roman legions in around 13 BC and soon flourished. Roads and a harbour were built as was a vast military camp and,... Read More