Roman Imperial genius and new technologies, Caracalla’s Bath in the fourth dimension

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Do you want to imagine the past but use technology from the future? When you’re in Rome you need to take a break and visit the majestic Caracalla’s Bath not far from the Colosseum and the archeological area of the Palatine and Roman Forum.

The Baths of Caracalla, opened in AD 216, were not the largest built in Rome, surpassed by those of Diocletian (located in the area of Termini Station) but we’re the most beautiful for the pomp of the marble decorations and today they represent the best example of thermal baths visible in the eternal city.

In recent years, the baths have been updated with the visitor experience by taking a tour with virtual reality googles (viewers in the fourth dimension). Caracalla is the first archeological site in Italy to be entirely viewable in 3D. At the ticket office with the deposit and a form of identity, it is possible to rent the viewer for an hour and 15 minutes. It is plenty of time since the video and audio tour last about 60 minutes.

The viewer is divided into 10 points which go between just audio or audio-video combination and is simple and intuitive to operate. When you arrive at the indicated points, wearing the viewer you will have the map of the Baths and the 4D experience starts. There are points in the tour when the contents are audio-only where you take a break from the viewers and just appreciate hearing the history from the points on the map. When the virtual reality is activated, direct observing is needed through the viewer. With the virtual reality, you can move freely in all directions, what you see corresponds exactly to what was in the point where we are looking. If we remove the viewer we will see the current state of the Baths, as if we were it the original one.

The possibility of creating this virtual experiencing comes from many years of scientific research and from the hard work of the site’s director, Dr. Marina Piranomonte.

In a society that is increasingly becoming digital, we must also adapt our cultural heritage. With new technologies, the customer can have clearly different experiences that one could live up to a few years ago. From my point of view, as an attractions expert at doitwell, an immersive virtual journey, especially in archeological sites, is the winning key. For example, if the site is not as iconic as the Colosseum but off the beaten track, a technological tool can intrigue the guests to visit.

The thermal Bath of Caracalla represents for me the quiet, always after the storm. When tourists ask me why Rome is eternal, I often advise them to visit these baths. Caracalla is something indescribable if you love the ingenuity of the Romans and virtual reality is what was missing from the site.

In this way, the experience is truly complete. No need to imagine but you can really jump back into the past. 

Walking in all the places that made up the site, from the locker rooms to the huge natatio, to the various environments with different water temperatures (Tepidarium, Caldarium, Frigidarium) and rediscover the ancient decorations, in glass, mosaic, and marble is just amazing! 

Sometimes even the imagination has limits and in this case, technology can improve the experience of tourists.

The monumental complex with their characteristic axial plan and vast dimension were opened during the reign of Marcus Aurelius Antoninius Bassianus, known as Caracalla, son of the emperor Septimius Severus. The construction work is clearly colossal, Caracalla creates a deviation of Aqua Marcia to get water in the area.

 The baths were intended by the Romans not only as a place of well-being but also as a place of social life, in the same order that today we used Facebook or Instagram; after three centuries of use, were abandoned in 537 AD following the siege of Rome by Vitiges

Inside the Caracalla complex, there were also two libraries and a magnificent garden that surrounded the entire structure. The baths took between 6000-7000 people a day and the entry ticket was practically ridiculous within the reach of all social classes.

Caracalla was an instrument of imperial propaganda as previously the Colosseum, for example, had been.

Within a tourist experience today it is good to combine several factors of interest and follow fashion, iconic sites, and standards experiences with a guide or audio guide, on the other hand, it is good to rely also on technologies when the site allows it. Technology, if used correctly, is an educational tool. The numbers of visitors to Caracalla are constantly on the rise and it is nice to walk on a site so rich in charm and notice that tourists love this experience in 3D.

After all, as the Roman poet, Orazio said: “you will not see anything greater than Rome in the world”.

Selenia Morgillo

Selenia Morgillo

Selenia Morgillo is an Attractions Expert at doitwell. Her specialty centers around providing doitwell’s Clients with the best experience. She focuses on understanding Attractions and how guests interact with them. Selenia is also an Art Historian, Tour Director, and Tour Guide in Europe. With her extensive studies in both the Arts and Tourism Management, Selenia’s unique background (especially behind the camera ) is what gives her such a curious eye for essential details and a passionate and soulful edge. On top of the formal arts, she has a passion for archeology, architecture, traveling, food, and photography. Born in a small town near Naples, Selenia currently lives and works in the “Eternal City” of Rome.

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