The Roman ascent to power brought about the boom of communal bathing. Romans built their gigantic publicly supported baths, or thermae, everywhere they found themselves during many centuries of constant conquest. Field heat rooms of legionaries expanded to become these magnificent constructions, some of which one can still find witness in North Africa, Asia, Eastern and Northern Europe.
Roman thermae contained pools and baths with hot and cold water, hot-air rooms, gyms, libraries, restaurants, concert halls and much more. Thermae were centers of communities, where people could discuss news, debate philosophical ideas, present their art and celebrate important events of their life.
In Ancient Rome, bathing in thermae was considered to be a cure from numerous diseases. This belief was supported by works of famous doctors, such as Hippocrates, Galen and Asclepiades. The latter was so devoted to thermae, he was nicknamed "bather". He was absolutely convinced that moderate physical exercises, walks in fresh air, reasonable diet, massage, a clean body as well as regular sweating in hot-air rooms are absolutely essential for treating a vast amount of diseases. As was expressed in one old saying carved in the wall of one of the bath-houses: "Thermae, love and joy - we are together".
Thermae played an important social and even political role in Rome. Senators preferred to informally discuss crucial political decisions that affected lives of citizens of the vast Empire. Ordinary people would than discuss those decisions as well as various news and rumors again in thermae. All Roman Emperors considered it a duty to construct thermae-or community bathhouses.
To link the love of bathing to the ruler of Rome, thermae were often named after those who ordered to construct them. The largest one of all is named after Emperor Diocletian. It was capable of accommodating up to 3,600 clients at one time.
On the verge of millennia they turned into enormous entertainment complexes, virtually, cities inside cities, that were created by extravagant Roman rulers to buy the political support of a general public.
Moreover, Some of these thermae continue to work as public bathing houses today. At the same time, the smaller, locally-oriented baths called balnea remained the centers of many Roman neighborhoods. Loyal to the principles of Greek laconicas, they became a place to go for a good company, community news and, of course, relaxation and revitalization that comes with social bathing.