Vespasian Bath at Patara

Patara - Vespasian Bath

The Vespasian Bath is the largest of Patara's four baths, 38 x 27 metres, located to the southeast of the city basilica and the central bath.

The main building is composed of three interconnected main chambers, connected by doors and a few additional sections have been built on at later dates.  There was an apoditarium, frigidarium, tepridarium and caldarium.  Many signs show that there were plans to enlarge the bath.  It is limited on the south by the late Justinian wall.  Its interior was once covered with marble tiles and it would have been heated with a hypocaust system.

Although it is called the Vespasian Bath, it is believed to have been built earlier, in the later years of emperor Nero's rule (this would make it the oldest known Roman bath in Lycia). Two different architectural and inscription styles seem to verify this, although an inscription has been found stating "The bath was built from scratch by the ultimate ruler, sacred Flavius Vespasianus... during the time of military governor Sextus Marcus Priscus by using the security funds collected from the people and with contributions of the military unit with all of the ornaments and decorations and swimming pool."  It has been suggested that the sections of the inscription about Vespasian may have been added later.  Other evidence seems to point to the fact that Vespasian may have repaired the bath and the aquaduct leading to Patara.  This is still a mystery waiting to be solved.

It seems that there may also have been a palaestra to the west next to the frigidarium and there very well may have been a gymnasium attached to it, located on the large flat area between the bath and the nearby Central Bath.  Bath-gymnasiums are characteristic of Anatolian-Roman baths. Three inscriptions have been found right next-door at the main street excavations and all are about gymnastics.  It seems that Patara may actually have had three gymnasiums, as the inscriptions speak of a gymnasium "for the youth", "a separate one for children" and another "one for the adults".  Yet another inscription mentions a woman gymnasiarch.

Click to see this structure's location

Patara - Vespasian Bath

Patara - Vespasian Bath

Patara - Vespasian Bath

 

Note: Information on this page is from the book Patara: The History and Ruins of The Capital City of Lycian League by Dr. Fahri Işıki (head excavator of Patara), Orkun and Ozan Medya Hizmetleri A.Ş. 2000.  I believe this is a limited edition book and unfortunately I don't know where it can be purchased.