Bath Somerset in Southwest of England is great for a city break.
If you are passionate about history and love the English traditions, I always advise a visit to the beautiful Bath, the largest city of Somerset situated in the valley of the River Avon, 18 km from Bristol.
The travel from London or Bristol by public transport is easy and frequent even if the trains are much more expensive than the coaches of National Express or Megabus. Once arrived, the first thing I always do, is a visit to the famous Roman Bath that is just 10 minutes walking from the train or bus station.
The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis c. 60 AD when the Romans built this bath and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although these hot springs were known even before.
The Romans probably arrived in this small town called Aquae Sulis in AD 43 and immediately they were attracted by the natural spring of hot water dedicated at the Celtic Goddess Sulis, very similar to the Roman goddess Minerva.The similarities between Minerva and Sulis helped the Celts adapt to Roman culture.
This natural mineral spring is the only one in England to be hot and it is situated in the valley of the Avon River in Southwest England. The Romans decided to build the temple next to the spring in honour of their Goddess in AD 60 and the Roman Bath complex next to this temple.
From the 3rd century, the Roman Empire started its decline and with it also the Roman Bath complex.
In medieval times, the Roman temple at Bath was connected to the British legend. The thermal springs at Bath were said to have been dedicated to Minerva by the legendary King Bladud and the temple was connected to an eternal flame.
Rediscovered from the 18th century onward, the city’s Roman remains have become one of the city’s main attractions.
In that period the tourists could have a bath in the hot water of the spring, warmed by geothermal energy, but then it was discovered the pool was dangerously full of bacterias and closed immediately to the public.
Nowadays it is possible to have a bath in the hot natural mineral water in a modern spa not far from the Roman ruin.
A visit to the Museum of Roman Bath is always suggested to see the rest of the Roman culture living in the area for 400 years, included 30,000 silver coins of the 3rd-century discovered only in 2012.
Next to the Roman Bath, there is the beautiful Bath Abbey.
It was founded in the 7th century and became immediately an important religious centre; the building was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries.
Bath Abbey is a parish church of the Church of England and former Benedectine monastery, built of Bath Stone, which gives the exterior its yellow colour. It was reorganised during the centuries but the mayor works were done by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 1860s. It is one of the largest examples of perpendicular Gothic Architecture.
In this Abbey, you can see the tombs of famous people living in the South West of England in the past centuries. The church has a cruciform plan and two organs and 1200 people can sit inside. The tower is 161 feet (49 m) high, and there are 212 steps to arrive at the top.
Bath is the best example of Georgian architecture.
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830 connected to the first four British monarchs of the House of Hannover — George I, George II, George III, and George IV— who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830.
The most famous building crafted in Bath stone, is the Royal Crescent, The Pump Room, and the Circus.
The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent was designed by the architect John Wood between 1767 and 1774, in a row of 30 terraced houses creating an arc with a crescent shape.
Even if some changes have been made during the century, the Georgian stone façade, 150 metres long and 114 Ionic columns in Palladian style, remains much as it was when first built.
Another example of Georgian architecture in Bath is The Circus, a historic street of large houses forming a circle with three entrances.
It was designed by the architect John Wood the Elder, between 1754 and 1768 inspired by the famous druid centre of Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
During a blitz of the Second War World, a bomb felt on the Circus destroying a large part of the building, but after the war, it was rebuilt in the same style.
Jane Austen museum
There are several museums in the city of Bath and one of the most famous is dedicated at the writer Jane Austen who lived in Bath in the early 19th century and remembered for her famous novels such as Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma.
Another interesting museum to visit is the
The Fashion Museum ( the Museum of the Costume before 2007 ), housed in the Assembly Room.
The collection was started by Doris Langley Moore, who gave her collection to the city of Bath in 1963. It focuses on elegant and original outfits for men, women and children from the late 16th century to the present day and has more than 100,000 objects.
The Assembly Room
In the city centre is possible to visit the Assembly Room built early 18th century, as a new venue for ball dances, concerts and gambling.
The building, made of Bath stone, is arranged in a U shape. There are four main rooms: the Georgian interior, the tea room, the card room, and the octagon. The rooms have Whitefriars crystal chandeliers and are decorated with fine art.
The Holbourne Museum
It is another museum that deserves a visit for its art collection wanted by Sir William Holburne. Artists in the collection include Guardi, Stubbs, and Zoffany.
The River Avon is crossing the city and during the Summer is possible to book a short cruise with a narrowboat next to Pultney Bridge at the end of your walking tour.
Bath was inscribed by Unesco as A World Heritage Site in 1987.
The city is full of culture, artistic events, art galleries and two different Universities and it is a good place to enjoy a city break in every season.
Thanks for reading.