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Terme de Diocleziano

Terme de Diocleziano (23)

Emperor Diocletian did no hide the fact that he did not like Rome very much. The luxury and intrigues of the city did not suit his character, being more used to the battlefields than the palaces. Nevertheless, with the desire to leave behind a good memory of himself, he gave the Roman people these baths. Built between 298 and 306 AD, the Terme di Diocleziano became the biggest in Rome, with a capacity for more than 3,000 people. 

In 1561, Pope Pious IV commissioned a by-then elderly Michelangelo to design a church using part of the structure of the baths. The result of this was Santa Maria degli Angeli, the entrance to which was built in an apse of the baths’ caldarium.

Later on, in the 18th century, the architect Luigi Vanvitelli transformed the nave designed by Michelangelo into a transept. The proportions of this transept are too big for a church of this size, giving the visitor a really overwhelming sensation.

In 1889, another part of the baths was turned into the Museo Nazionale Romano. This museum houses pieces from prehistoric Rome, Roman inscriptions and a large collection of sarcophaguses.

Another point you just cannot miss in your visit to the baths is the inner courtyard that still survives, also designed at the time by Michelangelo. 

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