In the Colle Oppio park near the Colosseum in Rome there are some ruins of the Terme di Traiano (Baths of Trajan), which were constructed for the emperor by Apollodoro in 110 AD. Near the southern entrance to the park, across from the parking lot, the Cisterna delle Sette Sale is visible. This is the cistern where the water for the baths was collected.
Cisterna delle Sette Sale Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via delle Terme di Traiano, 5b – Rome (tel. +39 060608). Opening hours: The site can only be visited as part of a guided tour, which requires quite some planning in advance. If you want to book for the months of January, February and March you can do this from September 14th onwards, for April, May and June you can start booking on December 14th, etc. Admission: 4 Euros (concessions 3 Euros). The visits are organized by so-called Associazioni Culturali. Their fee is not included in the entrance price.
History and description
Nowadays not much is left of the original grandiose structure, except for a number of rather majestic exedras. An exedra is a semi-circular structure, which was first used in ancient Greece. In the heyday of the Roman Empire exedras were often used in order to hold discussions and talk philosophy. The original meaning of the word is “outside chair”.
Excavations at the site unearthed several statues. This indicates that Trajan’s Baths were lavishly decorated.
The big reservoir (“cisterna“) that was used to hold water is still visible. From this cistern the water was transported to the nine great halls the Terme consisted of.
Initially it was thought that the monument was part of the Domus Aurea. Numerous brick stamps, however, show that the cistern dates back to the Trajan Age.
The name Cisterna delle Sette Sale stems from the 18th century when only 7 of the 9 halls had been unearthed. For some reason the name was never changed to Cisterna delle Nove Sale.
The construction consists of two levels, each consisting of nine parallel hallways. The width of each hallway is about 5 and the depth between 30 and 40 meters.
The function of the lower level is no more that that of supporting the upper one, which constitutes the actual cistern. The extra height was needed to create enough water pressure.
The lower level contained the conduits leading the water to a big reservoir. The total amount of water that could be held surpassed 8 million liters.
In the 5th century, the cistern went out of use. During the middle ages, one of its spaces came to be used as a cemetery. During excavations in 1967, more than one thousand skeletons were found.
For safety reasons it is not possible to walk on the terrace on top of the monument.