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Barbara Baths, Trier

The Barbara Baths –Barbarathermen – in Trier were built in the second century and were at that time the second largest of the Roman baths, only the baths of the Emperor Trajan in Rome were larger.

The Barbara Baths derived their name from a medieval suburb. The Barbara Baths were a part of a larger section of public buildings which were built around the same time. These buildings included the city walls and gates, the Amphitheatre, the Porta Nigra and the Viehmarkt Baths. The huge baths needed an enormous inflow of fresh water to stay clean, this goes someway in explaining the enormous water consumption in Roman cities. The interior was lavish in its decoration with marble inlays, splendid columns and statues. The original site was immense, measuring 175 x 225 metres and it was conveniently situated between the bridge and the forum. Today all that is left to be seen is around one quarter of that size, the ruins are in a field around 100 metres wide and 100 metres deep. The Baths were in constant use until the 5th century but did not survive the fourfold sack of the city between 410 and 435. The ruins that are visible today were excavated in 1877-1885. During the Middle Ages people started to live in the ruins and a monastery, church and chapel were built inside, next it was used as a castle before being torn down and the materials used for building materials for other projects such as the Jesuit College, built in 1610. The foundations and subterranean service tunnels have survived, but only around one third of the original site has been excavated. A tour of the Barbara Baths displays the vastness of the site, the tour also shows the sewer systems, furnaces, pools and heating systems. There have been extensive restoration works been going on at the Barbara Baths over recent years so check if the site is open if planning a visit to avoid disappointment.

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