I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Bath, England. Not that I’ve heard bad things, just the opposite really. Bath has never come up when searching for places to see or things to do in England. But it was part of the tour I took that also stopped at Windsor Castle and Stonehenge.
Getting To Bath, England
Bath is very accessible from most of England. As mentioned before, this was part of a 3 stop tour. We took the bus from Windsor Castle to Bath which took about 2 hours. If you were to go direct from London, this trip would take roughly 2.5 hours by car or train.
Bath, England, The City
Bath sits upon the River Avon in the rolling hills of Somerset. Interestingly, the word Avon is an old English word meaning ‘River’. So the River Avon translates into you saying River River. But this was an ‘aha’ moment for me as I often wondered how the town Stratford-upon-Avon (birthplace of Shakespeare) got it’s name. It turns out to be a very literal name.
The area that is now Bath has been inhabited since pre-historic times because of the natural hot springs that are there. These hot springs supply a constant rate of water to the surface at a comfortable 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). With the arrival of the Roman Empire and their expert engineering and city planning, the city of Bath began to take shape. As the Romans did, they built many buildings and monuments, including the famed Roman Baths.
After the departure of the Roman Empire from Britain, Bath was in the hands of the Anglo-Saxons and then the British Monarchy. It wasn’t until the 18th century when an architect named John Wood, The Elder set out to restore Bath to it’s former glory. It is because of John Wood’s influence (and later his son, John Wood, The Younger) that Bath is the city that it is today and a main reason why the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What makes Bath such a charming city is the style and consistency of the architecture. Most buildings in Bath are made from the local Bath Stone (limestone from a local quarry) and are in the Georgian architecture style.
If you’re hungry or parched, simply walk down any street and you’ll find many options. I opted for a pint and sandwich at The Hunstman Ale House (pictured above). After lunch head to the square right next to the Cathedral and Roman Baths and enjoy the many street performers.
The Roman Baths
This is a must see site for all visitors to Bath. The Roman Bath complex is the best preserved bath complex in Europe. It really lets you step back in time and experience what daily life may have been like for a Roman.
In it’s former glory, the Roman Bath complex would rival today’s best spas. Many of us don’t realize how advanced the Roman’s were let alone that they were masters of plumbing and water transportation. Not only could they construct grand bath complexes but many houses and homes were connected to the plumbing system as well. Complete with a swimming pool, exercise room, massage room, steam room, hot bath, warm bath, cold bath, changing rooms, saunas, plunge pools (hot tubs), temples, heated floors and natural healing/mineral water, it’s easy to understand why going to the Bath complex was very much an everyday affair.
At the end of the Roman Bath complex you are invited to try the mineral water that supplies the complex. Note that the water in the baths are not suitable for swimming as they are no longer treated and still flow through some of the lead pipes from long ago. However, the water at the end is treated and safe to drink. But be warned, the water is warm and smells odd due to the high concentration of minerals, especially sulfate. It doesn’t taste good, and you probably won’t like it but as the cliché goes, “When in Rome…”.
Having lived in Rome, Italy, I am very much a fan of the Roman Empire and it’s history. Seeing the Roman Bath complex was time well spent and it’s never a dull moment reading about all that they were able to accomplish. My only regret is that I did not spend more time in Bath. I will be visiting again.