Rome outside Rome: Hadrian’s Thermal Baths in Libya

In the archaeological site of Leptis Magna in Libya, there are the Hunters’ Thermal Baths, built during the Empire of Hadrian and a wonderful testimony of the Roman presence in this suggestive corner of the Mediterranean Sea.

A meeting point full of art

The Baths of Hadrian are located in the archaeological site of Leptis Magna in Libya, a complex built in the 2nd century AD. and used for almost three centuries, becoming one of the major aggregation points of the place. The arrival of water and the use of marble in the African city prompted the emperor to commission the work.

The baths consist of a series of rooms with barrel vaults carved into the sandstone. They retain mosaics and frescoes, one of which is located in the frigidarium which depicts hunting scenes set in the amphitheatre that gave the complex its name.

The architectural features and the plant

The spa is accessible from the gym, from which you pass through the entrance hall, a room with a floor covered with marble and mosaics in which there is an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by columns on three sides.

Once you get past the entrance, you find yourself in front of the frigidarium, the cold bath room, one of the most beautiful architectural works in the city. It is a huge room with a marble floor, eight massive columns almost 9 meters high that support a vaulted ceiling, decorated with blue and light blue mosaics, of which, however, nothing remains today. Along the walls you can see the niches inside which 40 statues were originally placed, some of which are now preserved in the museums of Leptis and Tripoli.

To the south of the frigidarium is the tepidarium, the room used for the warm bath and around it, the rooms of the caldarium open up, along with the hot bath room, facing south. Outside the southern walls there were the furnaces used to heat the water. Many of the smaller rooms, on the other hand, were the apodyteria, that is, the changing rooms.

The rest of the archaeological site

The ruins of the ancient city, which was founded by the Phoenicians around 1000, are located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Here, the Emperor Seventh Severus, who united Carthaginian and Roman blood by reconciling two peoples who had been rivals for centuries, was born. In fact, in the complex, there are many monuments that celebrate him, such as the arch dedicated to him.

The city boasted one of the most impressive lighthouses in the Mediterranean, which is no longer visible today. Temples, the forum used for the market, and the amphitheatre are other splendid testimonies of the Roman presence in this suggestive corner of Libya, making it a UNESCO heritage site since 1982.