Terme di Diocleziano, the most extensive baths in the ancient world, are the historic site of the Museo Nazionale Romano. About a century after its establishment, the Museum was reorganized into four distinct locations: Terme di Diocleziano, Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps and the Crypta Balbi.
The Baths were erected in only eight years, between 298 and 306 AD, in the area between the Viminale and Quirinale hills and extended over an area of over 13 hectares. They were bounded by a large enclosure and a large exedra with steps, corresponding to today's Piazza della Repubblica. After almost a thousand years of neglect, in 1561 Pope Pius IV decided to build a basilica with an adjoining Charterhouse dedicated to the Madonna degli Angeli inside the Baths. The project was entrusted to Michelangelo who, respectful of the ancient building, used the frigidarium and the tepidarium without altering its characteristics and conceived the Great Cloister.
Room VIII houses some of the magnificent architectural fragments of the Baths. Through a façade marked by pillars and columns, the hall looked out towards the natatio of which part of the monumental façade is now visible, designed on the model of theater scenes, covered with colored marble and mosaics that created extraordinary polychromatic effects.
The archaeological finds of the suburbs of Rome are displayed in Room X. Room XI was the water conservatory of the thermal complex, and where a large black and white mosaic is currently exhibited. In the center, between elegant volutes, is represented Hercules as he victoriously holds the horn just torn from the bleeding head of the river god Acheloo.
The Octagonal Hall is part of the central complex of the Baths and is the last of the four rooms that stood next to the caldarium. The classroom was transformed first into a cinema (Sala Minerva) and then into the Planetarium (1928), the largest in Europe. Only in 1991 the building was used for the exhibition of sculptures from thermal buildings. Among the statues from the Baths of Diocletian we must mention the copy of the Aphrodite Cnidia of Praxiteles. Two copies of Policleto and a beautiful statue of Aphrodite come from the Baths of Caracalla.
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