The Roman Thermal baths are the most preserved remains of the Antiquity in Bulgaria, as well as the largest public building on the territory of the country.
Built during the Roman epoch, towards the end of the 2nd century, they represent the largest Roman bath on the Balkans. According to the studies, the height of the vaulted structures was over 20 m, and the total area of the facility is about 7000 m². The bathrooms were in operation until the end of the third century. They had an important social function in the ancient Odessos, which from 15 BC. is part of the Roman Empire in the province of Moesia, but retains some autonomy (such as the right to cut their coins and to have no Roman garrison). As the main port of Moesia, the city was heavily influenced by the Roman culture, which is also testified by the thermae.
Unique is the bathroom’s heating system. It is connected to the double floor and the special cavities leading the warm air to the top of the building, built near the hot mineral springs used in Varna today. Visitors to the bathrooms were in spacious halls creating a natural barrier to the cold air, then in a huge hall (balester), a kind of center where Odessos’s men gathered to discuss important social issues.
The ruins are relatively well researched, although there are houses and churches built between the two fenced areas, which are sure to hide many antique buildings and artifacts. Therms have attracted the interest of historians and archaeologists long before the archaeological excavations began. As early as 1906, Austrian scientist E. Kalinka described the remains as an ancient building, but the most important merit of provoking the scientific interest in this old age and preserving it had the Shkorpil brothers.
The excavations of the Archaeological Museum – Varna from 1959 to 1971 under the direction of Milko Mirchev, opened the main part of the building. Underneath the existing streets today, some of the rooms remain as well as the southern artery of the western underground gallery. The ongoing and now archaeological studies clarify the purpose of the building and establish the era of its construction. The discovered building is part of the thermal baths of the Roman city of Odessos. The architectural style suggests that they were built at the end of the II – beginning of the 3rd century. The coins found during the sewage during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211) confirm this date. The latest coins found since the time of Emperor Tacitus (275). Thus, it was found that the therms functioned until the end of the 3rd century. The grandiosity of the construction, the impeccable performance of the brilliant architectural design, the richness of the decoration define the thermal as a remarkable monument of the ancient architecture in the Bulgarian lands. They testify to the flowering of culture in the city in the 2nd-3rd century, for its wealth and well-being. The Odessa baths are one of the largest in the European part of the Roman Empire.
During the excavations, a statue of Claudius Aquila was found, as well as statues of the Roman gods Heracles, Victoria and Mercury, who probably embellished the halls and gave them a solemn look. As evidenced by the inscriptions found, the gods protecting the health of Asclepius and Hygia had a sanctuary in the northwest of the thermae. Archaeologists have also encountered fragments of marble window frames, shaped like the curve of Heracles, who was also revered as a patron god of the springs.
Today, during summer, summer theaters function and concerts are held.
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