Bath of Varius

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To the east of the Basilica and the north of the State Agora, is a complex marble structure known as the Baths of Varius. The bath was first built during the Hellenistic age, around the 2nd century A.D, and was restored several times throughout the centuries. The multiple restorations are a major reason for the building’s unique look.

The famous sophist Flavius Damianus built the bath. A private room was built for Damianus and his wife. Ephesus Vedius Antonius, the daughter of a rich citizen, and Vedia Faedrina also had a room added to the Varius Baths.  This would have been a great mark of status as Romans valued personal hygiene and would have used these baths on a regular basis.

The original building had its north and east walls carved from natural outcroppings of rock. Resting, sitting and reading rooms which were added throughout the 2nd century.  These were restored and new rooms were added in later centuries. In the Fourth Century renovations were funded by a rich Christian lady called Scholastica. Then in the 5th century the building underwent major alterations to reflect the Byzantine Period and its influence on interior decoration. The most obvious evidence of these changes is the 40 meter long corridor covered with mosaics. The final design of the bath is classical Roman, with the caldarium (hot section), the tepidarium (warm section) and the frigidarium (cold section).

With the three classical bath rooms and other adjacent sections, the Baths of Varius covers a fairly large area. The building is in pretty good shape up to the vaults section, though past that you may need some knowledge about Roman bath houses to make it out what are you seeing. Beyond the three bathing pools, the baths boast a hypocaust to heat the water and public areas that would have been used to socialize. Excavations of the baths have not yet been completed.

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