Immerse yourself in history (but not the water) at Roman Baths of Bath, England.

Looking into the Great Bath at England's Roman Baths.

Looking into the Great Bath at England’s Roman Baths.

One of the main attractions, if not THE main attraction, in Bath, England is the 2,000-year-old site of the Roman Baths.  It’s here that you can roam ancient ruins, soak up the culture of Aquae Sulis (named for the goddess Sulis) and photograph one of the best preserved sites in England.

The 2,000-year-old Roman Baths, restored and open for touring in Bath, England.

The 2,000-year-old Roman Baths, restored and open for touring in Bath, England.

The Roman Baths haven’t always been this accessible.  Falling into ruin after the 5th century, the site was reconstructed in the 1800s by John Wood, the Elder and John Wood, the Younger who also designed The Circus in Bath.  But if you meander along the pathways besides the Great Bath, you could be standing on the very stones where Romans once stood.

View from the Terrace of the Roman Baths

View from the Terrace of the Roman Baths

The main attraction, of course, is the water itself — hot, geothermal water that flows over and percolates through limestone aquifers — the same water that enticed Romans to gather and bathe together.  Today, the water is deemed unsafe for public bathing due, in part, to the fact that it flows through lead pipes. But if you long for a safe, lavish spa experience,  Thermae Bath Spa is a nearby alternative.

Tour guide shares information on the water of the Roman Baths

Tour guide shares information on the water of the Roman Baths

If, however, you’re wishing for the restorative effect of mineral water, you can treat your body to a swig of something safe from an urn in the Grand Pump Room near the entrance. (We were told that some people show up every day for a free drink from the fountain.)

Offering safe drinking water is this decorative urn located in the Grand Pump Room of the Roman Baths.

Offering safe drinking water is this decorative urn located in the Grand Pump Room of the Roman Baths.

A walk around the terrace offers views of Bath Abbey and up-close encounters with Roman statues (suitable for today’s selfies, as it were).

Can you get Bath Abbey in the background?

Can you get Bath Abbey in the background?

Notably outstanding are curated exhibits you encounter while following the marked paths up and down, over and through the baths — like this one with over 12,000 Roman coins found at the baths (possibly cast into the water by guests) and now mounted for posterity.

Preserved and mounted Roman coins found at Roman Baths

Preserved and mounted Roman coins found at Roman Baths

Recreated on one wall of an underground alcove is a triangular section from the Bath Roman Temple. Columns, friezes, and a partial pediment surround the still intact Gorgon’s Head medallion.

Reconstructed pediment with Gorgon's Head medallion

Reconstructed pediment with Gorgon’s Head medallion

Be sure to take advantage of the audio tour detailing stops along the way in easy-to-understand detail.  As a pleasant surprise to us, we could choose the channel featuring the impressions (and humor) of  an author we love, Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island, Road to Little Dribbling), just by punching in the numbers designated on the signs throughout the exhibits.

Narrative on Hot Spring with optional discourse by Bill Bryson

Narrative on Hot Spring with optional discourse by Bill Bryson

Also making the Roman Baths come to life are the Romans themselves.  Well, not real Romans, of course.  But those who come to work there, dress in period garb, and demonstrate what Romans did in their spare time while talking, always in character, with tourists like us.

Dressed as a Roman, lady tells visitors of life at the Roman Baths 2,000 years ago

Dressed as a Roman, this lady tells visitors of life at the Roman Baths 2,000 years ago

The Roman Baths offer something for everyone — history buffs, lovers of art and archeology, and photographers.  Even children can have a great time talking with a Roman or reading some of the curse tablets posted on the wall — no doubt lambasting those who had stolen articles of clothing from bathers in the healing waters!  (For more on what to do with little ones in tow, check out “Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers” from Tin Box Traveller.)

Visitors on the terrace of Roman Baths, Bath, England

Visitors on the terrace of Roman Baths, Bath, England

And check out the Roman Baths website for how you can hold an event of your own or attend one of theirs right where Romans played 2,000 years ago!

Who knows?  You may be returning often — just to sip that mineral water.

Check out that hairdo on the bust of a Roman woman.

Check out that hairdo on the bust of a Roman woman.

Thanks for traveling England with us — Bert and Rusha Sams

For more information:

The Roman Baths: https://www.romanbaths.co.uk

Twitter: @RomanBathsBath

Facebook: The Roman Baths

 

 

 

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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21 Responses to Immerse yourself in history (but not the water) at Roman Baths of Bath, England.

  1. Corinne says:

    So cool, did you try the water by chance? What dos it taste like?

    • We tasted the water from the fountain in the upstairs restaurant area. It was good, but you could taste the minerals a bit. We were told that there are at least 2 people who come daily to get a drink of the water!

  2. David says:

    Plus, the water is green. Not exactly appealing for a bather to begin with. 🙂

  3. TinaRoper14 says:

    Reblogged this on A White Woman's Perspective.

  4. Tina Schell says:

    Amazing – would love to go there one day. Have read so much about the baths.

    • What Bath has done to archive and catalog the finds in and around the Roman Baths is remarkable. We were taken by the structure itself, but also the lovely presentation of artifacts. Thanks for taking a look.

  5. Great tip about the Bryson tour. Thanks.

  6. Amy says:

    Beautiful photos of this historical place!

  7. Aren’t the Roman ruins marvelous, Rusha? I haven’t been to Bath but wandering around Rome, or somewhere like Pompeii can certainly give you a feel for Roman baths in general. Thanks for the tour. –Curt

  8. Thank you for the post and the photos. We went to Bath, due to short of time, we didn’t see the Woman Bath!

    • So glad you liked the post. We love these baths, and the research posted for us to read informed us of what each area was used for. That woman comes occasionally, but there are several volunteers who dress up and talk to tourists. Be sure to check out the website for more good pictures.

  9. Rusha, Romans who were stationed in Britain must have felt like they were living in the worst place on the planet. I can’t imagine a wet, cold, English winter in a toga. How about you? And I bet when they discovered a hot spring for their baths, they made a few offerings to the gods. I had forgotten that this bath was hot. I need to do a bit of geologic research on that one. ~James

    • There’s lots of info on the web about temps and mineral content. I just didn’t include the scholarly parts, I guess. And as for the Romans . . . after having to drive on the wrong side of the road and be subjected to so many steak-and-kidney-pie welcoming dinners, they were ready to take the plunge – heat, minerals, or whatever! Thanks, as always, for commenting!

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