Baths of Antoninus Pius, Carthage
The most important remains of Roman Carthage are the Baths of Antoninus Pius and the adjoining Archeological Park, which lie between Avenue Habib Bourguiba and the sea. A reproduction of a capital from the Baths marks the intersection of the town's two principal streets, Avenue Reine Didon and Avenue Habib Bourguiba, from which Avenue des Thermes d'Antonin runs down towards the sea, with the entrance to the Baths at the end of it.The massive remains of the Baths of Antoninus Pius, which were the largest in the Roman world outside Rome, occupy an area of 1.8 hectares/4.5 acres. Built between A.D. 146 and 162, in the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, they were extensively restored in 389 but subsequently collapsed, presumably as a result of a structural defect, and thereafter were used for centuries as a quarry of building stone. As a result all that remains is the walls of the basement story, which owing to the nearness of the baths to the coast had particularly deep foundations, and a stretch of masonry on the west side extending up both storys. On the ground floor - and not, as was the normal arrangement, in the basement - were the heating and water supply systems, together with rest rooms and rooms for the staff of the baths. The baths proper were on the upper floors, with a grand staircase (of which nothing remains) leading down from them to the sea.The ground-plan of the baths was strictly symmetrical; one wing may have been used by men, the other by women. Eight colossal columns of gray granite (each 1.60m/5.25ft in diameter, weighing 50 tons, with Corinthian capitals of white marble, 1.8m/6ft high and weighing over 4 tons) supported the vaulting of the central chamber, the frigidarium, which was 50m/165ft long by 20m/65ft wide. One of the eight columns has been restored and re-erected.A visit to the baths followed a fairly regular sequence. After undressing in the apodyterium the bather had the choice between the warm pool and physical exercise in the palaestra or the covered gymnasium. Then he could warm himself in the warm room (tepidarium), attend to his personal hygiene in the destrictarium, have a good sweat in the laconicum, followed by a hot bath in the caldarium, cool down gradually in the tepidarium and finally have a cold bath in one of the four basins in the frigidarium, the central feature of the whole establishment.On the seaward side of the baths was a sunbathing terrace with an open-air swimming pool (natatio), on the landward side two semicircular communal latrines.