The Baths of Diocletian were built between 298 and 306 and they are the largest in the ancient Roman world.
The main halls (frigidarium, tepidarium and calidarium) were aligned along a central axis and all the other halls were placed around this axis. In 1561 Pope Pius IV built a basilica inside the area of the Baths.
Michelangelo, commissioned to design the Church planned the main cloister using the frigidarium and the tepidarium. The small cloister occupies about a third of the natatio’s surface.
1. The Garden and Entrance Hall
2. The Epigraphic Museum
3. The Proto-History Museum
4. Michelangelo’s Cloister
5. The Small Cloister
6. The Archaeological Tour
The Garden and Entrance Hall
The Epigraphic Museum
Around 900 items illustrate social, political, administrative, economic and religious aspects of the Roman world. It is one of the most important collection in the world (10.000 inscriptions).
The proto-history museum
This section of the National Roman Museum, illustrates the development of Latial culture from the late Bronze Age (11th century BC) and Iron Age up to the Orientalising period (10th – early 6th centuries BC), through the archaeological complexes that have been found in the area around Rome.
In this period there is a profound transformation of Latium’s communities caused by contacts with Etruria to the Noth and Campania to the South, where the earliest Greek colonisation took root during the 8th century BC.
The cloister is traditionally attributed to Michelangelo (who died in 1564) but he just received in 1561 the task of converting the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian into a Church. Probably Michelangelo had merely suggested the layout and then entrusted the job to a pupil, Giacomo del Duca who was involved in the work from 1565 to 1600 but the second floor of the cloister was only finished in 1676 and the fountain that stands at the center of the garden was built in 1695.
The Small Cloister
The cloister’s construction began in the second half of the 16th century, when Pope Pius IV Medici (1559-65), ordered the transformation of the central part of the Baths to create the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
The Archeological Tour
On the right of Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli we find the Aule delle Olearie, carried out by Clement XIII in order to ensure an efficient supply of oil to Rome. The museum also includes the so-called Octagonal Hall and the adjacent Hall of Sant’Isidoro.