Today, you can find swimming pools in almost every city and town. Even hotels and motels have them as an amenity. But there was a time when the idea of swimming in indoor artificial ponds was decidedly unusual. That’s why these eight swimming pools are so remarkable. They are among the oldest known indoor swimming pools in the world today.
Most were built many decades ago, some even in the 3rd millennium! These old-timey pools continue to be popular attractions to this day, thanks to their unique architectural significance and historical value. Whether you’re a history buff or just enjoy being somewhere with lots of old architecture, these historic swimming pools are worth checking out if you get the opportunity during your travels this summer. Here is a list of the eight oldest surviving indoor swimming pools in the world.
8. Underwood Pool
Year Built: 1912
Dimensions: 100 x 150 ft.
photo source: Patch
The Underwood Pool is one of the oldest swimming pools in the US. On June 17, 1912, Henry O. Underwood, who made his fortune with Underwood Deviled Ham, donated land. The community swimming area was built. He purchased the land from the Boston Elevated Street Railway (which would later become the MBTA) to become a place where children could have the same fun he had as a child swimming in local swimming holes. For the past 100 years, it has not only been a popular swimming facility but also become a tourist attraction for many.
7. Aquatic Swim Club, Morton
Year Built: 1907
photo source: Aquatic Swim Club
According to historical records, the Aquatic Clubs’ Morton Pool began as a mud-bottomed, spring-fed bathing hole for a few private residents before becoming the property of Rodeo Earl Smith, who hosted horse events in the area adjacent to the swimming hole. Dominic Capriotti purchased it from him. During his ownership, he cemented the bottom, upgraded the plumbing leading to the spring, erected the current pavilion, and installed cement pathways surrounding the swimming area.
The step area at the “horseshoe” end of the pool’s grounds received a significant makeover by the Club in 2009. A wall made of brick that matched the pool’s other walls was erected after the previous steps were taken out. Along with the addition of a “party patio” in the grove and the removal of a marshy area outside the snack bar, concrete construction was also finished at this time.
6. White Star Line Adriatic
Year Built: 1907
Location: Cruise Ship
photo source: DeviantArt
Next on our list is the White Star Line Adriatic—a cruise ship that was built in 1907 as a luxury passenger liner. She was one of four sister ships at the time – the others being the Hibernia, Baltic, and Gigantic. The White Star Line Adriatic was designed to be luxurious, and she had a large swimming pool installed on board. The pool was a popular feature on the ship and was included in the price of the ticket.
The swimming pool spanned two decks, was covered with a glass roof, and had a surrounding deck that could be enclosed with tarpaulins during inclement weather. The swimming pool was drained, filled with sand, and used for general storage for the rest of the ship’s life. After the ship was scrapped, the swimming pool was cut out of the ship’s deck, removed from its wooden base, and transported to the London Docklands to be displayed as a tourist attraction. The swimming pool has been on public display since the late 1980s.
5. The Racquet Club of Philadelphia
Year Built: 1907
Dimensions: 25 x 25 meters
photo source: billypenn.com
The Racquet Club of Philadelphia is a private social club founded in 1907. It originally started out as the Philadelphia Athletic Club. The Athletic Club had many sporting facilities, including a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and a swimming pool. The Athletic Club closed in the early 1930s, and the Racquet Club was formed in its place.
The Racquet Club has a number of facilities, including a swimming pool that was built in 1934. The swimming pool remains open today and is a popular attraction. There are a number of other historic buildings of architectural significance nearby, including the Union League, the Bellevue Hotel, and the Rittenhouse Hotel.
4. Maidstone Swimming Club
Year Built: 1844
photo source: TripAdvisor
The Maidstone Swimming Club was built in 1844. It has a small swimming pool that was built in 1913. The pool is a rectangular concrete structure with a wooden roof and a small staircase leading to the water. The swimming pool is located just off the River Medway in the English county of Kent. The pool has hosted a number of famous swimmers throughout its history. It is still in use to this day and has been nicknamed “The Smashing Pool” thanks to a famous radio advert.
The swimming facility has undergone a series of renovations in the 2000s and has been fully operational since then.
3. Roman Pool
Year Built: 1 BCE
photo source: BBC
Next up is the Roman Pool at the Baths of Caracalla. This infamous swimming pool was built during the 1 BCE.The Baths of Caracalla are located in Rome, Italy, and are still in use today. The swimming pool is part of the Baths of Caracalla, which also include a large indoor swimming pool, an elaborate hypocaust (heating) system, changing rooms, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria.
The Roman Pool was designed to be large, with a wide approach and steps leading down to the water. A roof was added to shelter the pool from the elements at a later date, and the roof continues to protect the pool to this day. What was once a place of leisure has now become a famous tourist attraction.
2. Kuttam Pokuna
Year Built: 4 BCE
Location: Sri Lanka
Dimensions: 132 x 51 ft.
Status: Repurposed as a pond
photo source: Wikipedia
Kuttam Pokuna was a swimming pool turned into an artificial pond in Sri Lanka. The pond is surrounded by several temples, including the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The pond is used for religious rituals and as a site for daily exercise. The pond was built around 4 BCE and is believed to have been the source of water for the nearby temples.
The pond is a bit of an architectural oddity, as it has an opening at the bottom that leads down to the water table below. The pond was built to provide water to the royal household as well as others living nearby.
1. Great Bath
Year Built: 3rd Millennium BCE
Dimensions: 40 x 23 ft.
Status: Not Operational (Ruins)
photo source: Harappa
Mohenjo-daro, a Pakistani archaeological site where the Indus civilization’s remains may be seen, is home to the Great Bath, the oldest swimming pool in the world. It is thought that ceremonial bathing took place at the Great Bath, which was constructed in the third millennium BCE.
When Mohenjo-daro, one of the principal centers of the Indus civilization, was being excavated in the 1920s, a sizable citadel complex was discovered, including The Great Bath. A coating of bitumen sealer is sandwiched between two sawed brick skins that are laid on edge in gypsum mortar to form the floor.
Although its meaning is uncertain, it is widely believed to be connected to some form of ritual washing. Even while Mohenjo-daro lacked grand palaces or significant monuments, it did have a large sewage system, numerous bathrooms (the majority of dwellings had washrooms), and numerous baths, indicating that cleanliness and hygienic conditions were given importance.