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The Water’s Return to the Baths of Caracalla in Rome

Posted on April 8th, 2024

by Adriana ruiz

In 2024, the Baths of Caracalla in Rome welcomed the return of water through a remarkable installation named ‘Lo Specchio’ (‘The Mirror’). This contemporary feature, measuring 42 meters by 32 meters, creates a reflective surface that mirrors the grandeur of the ancient ruins, offering a visual connection between Rome’s storied past and its present.

The pool is not an attempt to recreate the historical baths but rather to evoke the essence of the site. Cultural officials, including Daniela Porro, the special superintendent for cultural affairs in Rome, have expressed that the reintroduction of water symbolizes a tangible link to the ancient world. The installation is designed to complement the ancient architecture, reinforcing the Baths of Caracalla’s role as a hub of culture and art.

Equipped with water jets and spotlights at its base, ‘Lo Specchio’ also serves a functional purpose. It can host a stage for performances, blending the arts with this historic backdrop. The inaugural event for the public is set to be a ballet set to George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ on April 13.

The Baths of Caracalla, constructed between 212 and 216 AD, were among the largest bath complexes of antiquity and remained operational until the sixth century. Today, the site is not only a testament to Roman engineering and social life but also a venue for operas, concerts, and contemporary art installations.

This innovative project, led by site director Mirella Serlorenzi and overseen by Porro, was brought to life by architects Hannes Peer and Paolo Bornello. ‘Lo Specchio’ stands as a modern tribute to the enduring legacy of the Baths of Caracalla, inviting visitors to experience a fusion of history and modernity.


Photo courtesy of finestresullarte.info, taken by Fabio Caricchia and Leandro Lentini.

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