World's Most Amazing Buildings: Roman Recreation

The ancient Romans buildings were amazing and fascinating. These ancient architects and builders put some modern ones to shame.

World’s Most Amazing Buildings: Roman Recreation

By Mr Ghaz, November 17, 2010

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World’s Most Amazing Buildings: Roman Recreation

By the first century AD, Rome was a great empire. It reached from the Caspian Sea in the east and the British Isles in the north, to North Africa in the south. The Romans built roads with hard surfaces to connect their many cities. Aqueducts brought water to the cities from mountain springs. Luxury goods arrived in Rome’s large harbors from every part of the known world. Romans in the cities bought food in take-away restaurants to eat in apartments with glass windows. They spent their free time watching plays or sporting events such as chariot races. They gathered at public baths to exercise and relax. Roman emperors ordered the construction of lavish buildings for public recreation to make themselves popular with the citizens. Roman engineers used synthetic materials such as concrete to construct these buildings, which were decorated with statues, mosaics and imported marble.

Pont du Gard

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The Pont du Gard is part of an aqueduct that carried water from mountain springs to baths and homes in Nimes, France, which was once a Roman city. The water channel stayed almost level as the aqueduct crossed mountains and valleys.

Colosseum

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The 50,000 seats at the Colosseum in Rome stood on rings of concrete-vaulted passages, which were reached by stairs. Every spectator could leave the Colosseum in five minutes through exits called vomitoria. The Colosseum was used for many activities. It was flooded for mock sea battles and gladiators tested their skills against lions that leapt into the arena when hidden doors snapped open.

Working Out

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A mosaic on the floor of the baths in the Villa Casale, a private country house in Piazza Armerina, Sicily, shows women exercising. Many public baths had a separate bathing area for women.

Baths of Caracalla

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Emperor Caracalla built these baths in Rome, Italy, between 211 and 217. Gardens with sports fields, lecture halls and libraries surrounded the main building. As many as 1,600 people at one time could enjoy the swimming area, sauna, hot baths and the take-away shop.

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Sauna: People sat on several tiers of seats in the dry heat of this sauna or in a nearby steam bath. The sauna was heated with air that was warmed over fires in the basement. The air passed under the floor then through tubes in the walls.

Making Concrete

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Romans made concrete from a mixture of lime, water and volcanic earth, which was poured over small rocks or broken bricks. The Romans built two walls of stone or brick then filled the space between them with the concrete. The walls and vaulted ceilings of the big recreational buildings were constructed from concrete.

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