|Bath of Diocletian and Church of S. Mary of the Angels|
The huge rectangular area occupied by the Baths, erected between 298 and 306 A.D., is of approximately 140,000sqm, excluding the tanks, discovered in Piazza dei Cinquecento, fed by the water of the aqueduct of the Aqua Marcia. Built in brick stone, the baths could accommodate up to 3000 people simultaneously. The huge thermal complex housed a central building with calidarium, tepidarium and natatio (rooms for hot or warm baths and swimming pools filled with cold water, partly preserved) disposed along the short axis, and gymnasiums on both sides of the long axis, with a large court all around used as garden.
Inside the complex there were open exedras (perhaps used for conference rooms and public readings), wide rectangular rooms (libraries) and circular rooms at the west and south corners, transformed later into the church of S. Bernardo alle Terme and into a restaurant with an arena. Today’s Piazza della Repubblica traces the line of the large exedra of the Baths,in front of which there were calidarium, tepidarium and “ basilica “ transformed later by Michelangelo (1563-66) into the church of S. Maria degli Angeli.
Redesigned by Vanvitelli (1749), it is the church used for official religious services. Noteworthy mostly for its huge proportions, and for its eight colossal monolithic columns in red granite (13.80mt. high), belonging originally to the Baths. The name “Termini”, given to the central railway station, reminds deformed, the memory of the “terme”(baths).