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Rome Reports

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Underground tunnels of historic Roman bathhouse open for first time ever

MARIAROSARIA BARBERA

Archeology Superintendent, City of Rome

“The baths are a monument of grandiosity from the ancient times. They deserve to be brought back to life, so we have progressively opened up nearly all of the surface area to visitors. We are also opening up the underground level.”

The tunnels below the bathhouse stretch more than 6500 feet. For decades, talk about making them accessible to visitors stalled until late 2012.

As the project rose to prominence, the work began. For several months more than 50 people worked daily to clean up the tunnels, restore them, and more importantly, gather the original remaining artifacts from the bathhouse.

MARINA PIRANOMONTE

Director, Terme di Caracalla

“We decided to show in a small antiquarium, a small museum, some of the most important marble pieces of the baths.”

The pieces came from various other places where they had been stored. Up until now such a collection had not been featured together.

From its start an imperial gift to the city, the Terme di Caracalla was an epicenter of Roman culture. Aside from the bathhouses, it also housed one of the largest libraries at the time, and some of the best examples of classical Roman architecture.

MARIAROSARIA BARBERA

Archeology Superintendent, City of Rome

“We are restoring the great decorations from the bathhouse in the underground level, which is where the life pulsated at the baths, where you can imagine hundreds of people each day.”

The underground level with the artifacts will remain open for most of the year, to allow more people to see its inner and outer splendor, according to organizers.

There are also plans in the future, expand and open up the tunnels for the first time to visitors.

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