Via di Sant' Eustachio
In Via di Sant' Eusatchio, a stone's throw from the Pantheon, tower two colossal ancient granite columns. The columns, which were unearthed near the church of San Luigi di Francesi, were once part of the Baths of Nero (Thermae Neronis), which the infamous emperor built circa 62 CE.
'What is worse than Nero. What is better than Nero's baths.' ('Quid Nerone peius. Quid thermis melius Neronianis.'). So quipped the Roman poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (c.40 - c.104), better known simply as Martial.
The Baths of Nero, which were the second public bathing establishment to be erected in Rome, covered an area of about 190 by 120 metres and stood on the site of Palazzo Madama.
The baths comprised an open air natatio (swimming pool), a frigidarium (cold pool), a tepidarium (warm room), two sudatoria (steam rooms), and a caldarium (hot room).
The complex was rebuilt by the emperor Alexander Severus (r. 222-235), when it became known as the Thermae Alexandrinae.
The beautiful granite basin in nearby Via degli Staderari, which now forms part of a fountain, was also part of the baths.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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