Suburban Thermae or Baths of Herculaneum (Terme Suburbane)
Thermae was located on the former coast of the Gulf of Naples. They
are perfectly preserved almost in its original form. The suburban
baths, apparently, were a gift to the city from Proconsul Marcus
Nonius Balba whose statue and memorial altar are on the terrace in
front of the building. The baths very well survived despite the
eruption and are in excellent condition. The fact that the coastline
was pushed back almost half a kilometer into the sea shows that the
volcanic avalanche had not lost its strength by the time it reached
the bath. The volcanic wave continued far into the sea.
building owes its survival to its construction. The walls were built
of brick and lined with concrete. Volcanic mud poured through
skylights and filled the interior so that the pressure outside and
inside was equal. Because of this, the Suburban Baths did not burst
like a Greek nut.
The main entrance (a) to the bathhouse
consists of a portal with half columns supporting tympans. A flight
of stairs leads from there down to the lobby (b). Unlike the Central
Termae, these bathtubs were not separated, and were probably used
alternately by both sexes. The lobby of the Suburban Termae was
under the arch supported by four columns and topped with rounded
arches. The marble bust of Apollo stands on a pillar, and from it in
antiquity the water gurgled quietly and fell into the pool in front
of it. From the lobby you could get into all areas of the bathtubs.
In the northeast corner of the lobby there is a
small vestibule with a doorway (c) from where the entrance to the
service area opens (painted blue on the plan). It was also possible
to get to the House with the relief of Telef, where the family of
Proconsul Balba lived. The second service area is located on the
south side of the lobby (also painted blue on the plan). There were
boilers for heating water. Room (d) is beautifully lit by daylight.
The walls had large panoramic windows overlooking the Gulf of
Naples. The room was apparently just used to relax and have a
friendly conversation among the visitors of the Suburban Term. The
walls, plastered and with pilasters, supported artificial
entablature under the vaulted ceiling.
A door from the lobby
leads to a large vaulted room (e) with a beautiful marble floor,
which served as a combined apoderium and frigidarium. There is a
cold pool on the east side of the room (pictured right). The doorway
on the north side of the room remains clogged with volcanic debris
from the eruption (pictured left).
The room is decorated in a
fourth style with red panels and marble panels. A door on the south
side of the room opens into the tepidarium (e). This vaulted room is
decorated with stucco figures of warriors. Marble benches stand
along the walls.
On the west side of the tepidarium, a door
leads to a vaulted caldarius (g), which has an apse on the south
wall, and a marble hot pool on the north wall. The walls are
decorated with caldaria numerous small stucco panels marble on the
walls and on the floor. To the east of tepidarium is room (h) with a
large heated pool (photo below). The vaulted ceiling of the room is
decorated with ribbed stucco, and light entered the room through
four large windows in the walls, two of which are installed in the
In the northeast corner of the room is a doorway that
leads through to Laconicum (I), a small round room with very dry
heating, that is, an ancient Roman bath.