Achilliane Baths in Catania
The Achillian Baths are one of the most significant buildings of the Roman-Imperial age in Catania.
The monument was excavated in the eighteenth century by Ignazio Paternò Castello, prince of Biscari, who in his Journey to all the antiquities of Sicily remembers having freed the monument from the earth accumulated there after the earthquake of 1693 and having managed to discover only a part of the large thermal complex of which he had identified traces under the Cathedral of Sant'Agata, under the Seminary, current seat of the Diocesan Museum, and under the Palazzo Senatorio, now the Town Hall. Shortly after, Jean Houel, visiting Catania during his trip to the island, struck by the suggestion of the building, which he believed to be a colossal temple of Bacchus, reproduces the central hall and the stuccos with cupids, animals, tendrils and bunches of grapes in some gouaches now preserved in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. In the nineteenth century the architect Ittar redesigned the plan, while Adolf Holm, in his work Catania Antica, describes as a whole the building of which, in 1856, parts had been discovered under the Seminary of the Clerics and under Via Garibaldi.
The part of the building that can be visited today consists of a central rectangular room with four pillars on which the vaults are set. At the center of this room there is a basin originally covered in marble, as well as some slabs, in fragments, which must have constituted the flooring of the room.