The central thermae or baths of Herculaneum are some of the finest public buildings in the city. The central thermae were built around the beginning of the 1st century AD. They were divided into male and female baths, each with its own separate entrances. The men's bathhouse had two entrances, (a) and (b), which led to Palestra (e), which served not only as a recreation area, but also as a meeting place, an open-air living room. The shaded area on the plan in the south may not have been part of the complex. The walls of the colonnade were decorated with frescoes, executed in the fourth style consisting of red geometric and architectural motifs on a white background.
The men's dressing room (c) is located north of the entrance (a) and has a drainage channel in the form of 'L' and is connected by a continuous influx of water from the neighboring frigidarium (g). Near the toilet is a long narrow room, with a small window for lighting. This room had the task of controlling the passage and checking the passes required for entry.
Men's thermae are located directly in the northwest corner of the palette. In the first room, the apoditerium (e) (photo below) has a vaulted ceiling decorated with stucco molding, and the floor is laid out in the architectural style of the opus scutulatum. On the north wall there is a small arched apse, with some remnants of decor, while in the northwest corner are the remains of a rectangular tank. Both were used for washing before entering the interior of the bathhouse. The lower part of the walls below the shelves for visitors' clothes is dark red, and the upper zone is white.
the western wall of the room there is an entrance to the frigidarium
(g) (photo on the left) through a small vestibule (F). The
frigidarium was the last room in the bathing process. The cold pool
was supposed to cool bathers after bathing in a hot caldaria. The
frigidarium has a round room with a domed ceiling. Access to the
frigidarium from the lobby (F) is through a small doorway on the
south side. Directly from the entrance, two steps lead down to the
paddling pool, which has a diameter of 4.1 meters and is about 1
meter deep. The frigidarium is decorated in the fourth style. The
round pool is painted in blue-green, and the walls are painted in
red with four corner apses decorated with yellow. The dome is
painted in light blue. Frescoes of fish and other marine animals
have been preserved in some places.
Tepidarium (h) is accessible from the east door of the apoditerium. The tepidarium is 12 meters long and 6 meters wide. The room has a wide vaulted ceiling decorated with stucco molding, and the floor is covered with beautiful mosaics depicting a newt surrounded by dolphins (pictured below).
The room is lit by a window which is in the upper part of the south wall. There were benches on all four sides, and above them were shelves for clothes and personal belongings of bathers. It was also possible to put oils for massage here. The tepidarium was heated using hot air that was supplied here through pipes under the floor and in the walls of the Central Term. The air was warmed by bonfires that served the term slaves. They constantly threw firewood, and through the chimneys the air from the burning of a fire spread throughout the building.
(i) was entered through a small door located near the center of the
eastern wall of tepidaria. The room measures 12.5 meters by 6.3
meters. Most of the ceiling collapsed. The caldary was illuminated
by windows on its south side above the apse, decorated with stucco.
Here stood a labrum-stone bowl for water. However, the Bourbons
managed to steal it. On the opposite side of the room was a large
rectangular tub for a hot tub. In this room, the wall decoration was
decorated with yellow paints with marble trim around the perimeter
of the room. The room had a mosaic floor, but what was left of it
Women's baths, although smaller, remained in better condition than men's baths. A waiting room that has its own entrance (L) with Cardo IV. These bathtubs consist of the apoditerium (m) (pictured right), decorated in red and white with an elegant mosaic floor with a nautical theme. The tepidarium (p) is decorated with red and white paints with a mosaic floor.
Finally there was a bath in Caldaria (photo above) with a labrum-stone thicket. At the rear of the Central Term was a service area (J). Here were the very boilers for heating water that were mentioned above. They heated the air that circulated through pipes in the floor and walls of both male and female terms. Service area, painted blue on the attached plan. The working area had its own entrance (k) from Cardo IV Street.