Looking for a good bath to visit? There’s only one in the world that counts. Bath, England. This village has been around for nearly three thousand years and is the home of the original Roman Baths, built around the only geothermal hot springs in the UK. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Roman Baths
With over 42 minerals in the water, the thermal springs located under Bath have been used for their curative properties since the Roman ages. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the baths were mostly forgotten about and the town itself was buried under yards of silt from the nearby Avon River. Then in the past few centuries, British royalty found the waters and their supposed health benefits, and the location once again became a hub for the upper class of society.
Today, the Roman Baths have been uncovered and made available to explore. The roof is missing from above the main bath and the temples are long since gone. Yet as the area was buried, it was surprisingly well preserved and many of the baths and chambers are now accessible. A tour of the facilities includes an extensive information center with audio guide, full exploration of the numerous baths, steam rooms and other ancient facilities, and a guided tour of the main bath every hour.
While the abbey in Bath is considerably smaller than its original size, due to various conquests and most recently a German bombing during World War II, it’s still a beautiful structure. There are numerous architecture and artistic curiosities around the church. One of the most beautiful is the massive stained glass wall at the back of the abbey. Visit on your own or take one of the numerous free walking tours of Bath to get the specifics, like the statue where the head was carved out of the beard after the marble broke.
Jane Austen’s Center
The famous English novelist who wrote Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility lived in Bath for five years. While the town has changed much since her passing two centuries ago, it still has the charm extant in her time. Jane said in one of her novels, “I really believe I shall always be talking of Bath, when I am at home again–I do like it so very much…. Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?” You can visit the Jane Austen’s Center to see memorabilia of her life and family, or take a Jane Austen walking tour of the town.
Thermae Bath Spa
While the waters of the Roman Baths are no longer fit to bathe in, a new spring was bored to supply water to the Thermae Bath Spa. This center offers two large pools (a large one on the ground floor and another on the roof), numerous massage options and their new Wellness Suite which includes Roman and Georgian steam rooms, an infrared sauna, an ice chamber and a celestial relaxation chamber.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are nearly countless other attractions and landmarks around the city to explore. Join a walking tour or get on the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour to see them all. There is the Pulteney Bridge, one of the only three bridges in the world with buildings lining both sides of the street along the bridge. Bath Circus and the Bath Crescent are two impressive architectural wonders in the town. Taverns, theaters and restaurants older than the Declaration of Independence are still open for business. In winter, there is an impressive Christmas Market surrounding the abbey. And up on the hill, the Sham Castle looks down over the town.