Last updated: 10/16/2020
Check out all the information to include in your itinerary the incredible Roman Baths of Bath! It is a place steeped in history and the main attraction of the city of Bath. You'll see how perfect this is for a day trip from London!
THE CITY OF BATH
We have already covered all the most important features of the city of Bath in the post “bath: 1 day in english city of roman baths“. In summary, Bath is a friendly city located just over 150 km from London which is UNESCO World Heritage. O city's first name was Aquæ Sulis, in 60 AD, when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although the hot springs were known even before this time. Bath (meaning bath) has its name due to the fact that it houses Roman Baths used for bathing in hot waters with healing powers.
The Roman Baths of Bath
The Roman Baths of Bath, also known as the Roman Baths, is a beautifully preserved historic complex that was once used as a public bathing place in the city. In fact, the place is one of the largest religious spas in the world, with exclusive thermal springs and hot springs that still flow with natural hot water today. The first sanctuary at the site of the hot springs was built by the Celts, and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. The water that supplies the hot springs comes from limestone aquifers that are at a depth of up to 4,300 meters. Due to this depth, geothermal energy raises the temperature of the water up to 96ºC! Under pressure, the heated water rises to the surface along cracks and faults in the limestone.
> CONSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN SPAS
One roman temple it was built in honor of the goddess Sulis Minerva and was the main place of worship in the Roman city of Aquæ Sulis, ancient Bath. The temple was built at the end of the 1st century AD in a classical style. It stood on a podium more than eight feet above a surrounding courtyard. The temple had a flight of steps and four large Orinthian columns, supporting a frieze and pediment decorated above. Behind the columns was a large door to the basement where the cult statue of the goddess stood.
The construction site was chosen because it houses the Sacred Spring, a spring with a temperature of around 46ºC that was born inside the courtyard of the Temple of Sulis Minerva, whose water fed the entire complex of Roman baths. Initially, this reservoir formed an open pool in one corner of the Temple courtyard, but in the 2nd century AD it was enclosed within a vaulted building, with statues and columns around it. The temple remained a focal point for worship until the end of the 4th century CE.
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> THE SPA AFTER THE ROMANS
However, after the Romans left Britain in the first decade of the 5th century, with the strengthening of Christianity, the Roman baths fell into disuse and were eventually lost due to silting and flooding. The vaulted building eventually collapsed in the 6th or 7th century. The spring is now housed in buildings built in the 18th century, designed by architects John Wood (father and son). No
At the time, visitors drank the waters in the Grand Pump Room, a neoclassical hall that remains in use, both for drinking water and for social functions. The King's Bath was built using the lower walls of the Roman spring building in the 2nd century as a healing bath. It continued to be used for bathing until the mid-20th century.
> CURRENT DAYS IN THE ROMAN SPAS
Currently, the entrance to visit the complex is through an old concert hall built in 1897, which is a continuation of the Grand Pump Room and has a center with a beautiful glass dome. In addition, the complex included a museum and the Queen's Bath, which were created by Charles Edward Davis in 1889. Bath's Roman Baths welcome over 1 million visitors each year, making it one of the UK's most visited historic attractions.
HOW IS THE VISIT TO THE ROMAN SPAS OF BATH
Currently, the site no longer functions as a hot spring, but is open to the public for tourist visitation. It is possible to visit the old pools and learn more about the place with an illustrative exhibition about the complex's past operation. When you arrive at the venue, buy your ticket at box office which is housed in a beautiful Victorian hall.
Then take a audio guide to learn more about each location in the complex (it is available in 12 languages, including Portuguese). You can also download through mobile apps. The audio guide is extremely helpful as there are signposts along the tour with numbers that must be selected to hear detailed explanations about the construction of the baths and their past uses. There is even an exclusive tour for children, with a more fun version with characters. However, it is only available in English, French and German.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE VISIT TO THE ROMAN SPAS OF BATH
The Roman Baths of Bath contain thousands of archaeological finds from pre-Roman and Roman Britain. The visit is not limited to knowing the large bathing pool, but the entire history behind the baths with computer graphics images of the archaeological sites, old structures already deactivated, the Roman bath complex, beautiful objects collected from excavations, and the ancient Roman temple built on the site. Below, see the map of the Roman Baths. Next, we'll talk a little more about what to find during the tour.
When purchasing the ticket, go out into a corridor and turn left to start visiting. You will be on a beautiful terrace where you can walk and observe the beautiful Great Bath, the large shower room. The terrace is decorated with nine Victorian statues of Roman Emperors and rulers of Great Britain that were carved in 1894. Present are: Julius Caesar, Emperor Claudius, Emperor Vespasian, Governor Ostorius Scapula, Governor Suetonius Paulinus, Governor Julius Agricola, Head of Roma (statue symbolizing the spirit of Rome), Emperor Hadrian and Emperor Constantine the Great. The tour is just beginning, as the whole complex is immense and surprises visitors!
2. RO SPA MUSEUMMANAS
Then there is a exposition about the romans, who lived and worked there. The visitor is introduced to Roman Britannia and the city of Aquæ Sulis. This exhibition has two models with the temple and the complex of the Roman baths, including projections and information about the people who lived there. In this museum you can see details of the temple pediment, watching an animation in an amphitheater-style venue. The pediment bears the image of a fearsome head carved from Bath stone and is believed to be the Head of the Gorgon, which was a powerful symbol of the goddess Sulis Minerva.
> COLLECTION OF ROMAN SPAS
Furthermore, it is possible to explore Roman Baths of Bath collection, which is of great international importance. This area of the museum includes film projections of Roman characters to interpret scenes from Roman life. Many of the objects in the museum tell about the people who lived and worked in the area and those who visited the site. This area of the museum also contains the Beau Street Hoard, a collection of over 17,000 Roman coins that were discovered in Bath in 2007.
> ROMAN WORSHIP
The people of Aquæ Sulis visited the baths and temple to worship the goddess Sulis Minerva. In this area you can see some of the private altars that once covered the temple courtyard and discover the sacrifices made there. Among the highlights are: Four Seasons Facade, an unusual building with several carved stones that was found in excavations for the construction of the Pump Room in 1790; at Curse Tablets, very special objects with messages inscribed on sheets of lead or tin that were thrown into the Holy Spring; and the tholos, three large curved and decorated blocks supported by a stone column survive from the frieze of a tholos, a kind of circular temple, which probably stood to the east of the temple of Sulis Minerva.
The next stage of the visit is to visit the site of the Temple of the Goddess Sulis Minerva. Visitors follow a suspended passageway above the Temple courtyard to explore the sacred area, where Roman worshipers gathered to pray to the goddess Sulis Minerva. This was the place where sacrifices were made on the great altar. There are many altar stones and inscriptions in this area. Visitors can also see digital reconstructions of the Roman temple courtyard in this area of the museum.
Check out in the animation below made by computer graphics, more information about what the Roman site of Aquæ Sulis and how it has changed over the last 2000 years!
At the end of the route, it is exposed to “Minerva's Head“, a bronze sculpture of the head of the goddess Sulis Minerva. This is one of the most famous objects in Roman Britain. The head is likely from the cult statue of the deity that stood inside the Temple beside the Holy Spring, and may date back to the 1st century AD.
Now is the time to visit where the Holy Spring is located. There are 1,170,000 liters of water flowing through the site and the volume increases daily. The Temple was built next to the spring precisely because it was believed in its healing power, being rich in minerals. Many offerings were made at the spring throughout the Roman period, including over 12,000 Roman coins. Some very special objects are the “Tablets of the Curse”, with messages inscribed on sheets of lead or tin, which were then rolled up and thrown into the spring, where the spirit of the goddess lived.
The Roman plumbing and drainage system is still largely in place today and shows the ingenuity of Roman engineers. Lead pipes were used to transport hot water around the site using gravity flow.
The great Roman drain can be seen through a glass floor that was recently erected in the museum. Some important discoveries were made in the drain, including a group of 34 gemstones and a mysterious pewter mask.
The large bathing complex in the ancient Roman city was designed to meet the needs of the locals. In addition, many visitors travel from the rest of the Empire looking for water from springs with healing powers. The Roman Baths at Bath were unusual not only for their size, but for the fact that they used a lot of hot water.
The bathing practice of the Romans consisted of moving from one heated room to another, ending with a dip in cold water. There was even a whirlpool of sorts. The bathrooms were divided as follows:
=> GREAT BATH
The great bath room was the main area of the Roman Baths of Bath. She was fed with hot water that came from the Sacred Spring and provided hot, luxurious baths. The room was lined with 45 thick sheets of lead and was accessed via four steep steps. Initially, the room was covered with a wooden ceiling, which was replaced in the 2nd century by a ceramic vault, supported by reinforced pillars at a height of 40 meters. Visitors can walk around the 1.6-meter-deep hot spring pool, which was ideal for bathing. There is a large stone, called a diving stone, placed at the point where the hot water flows into the pool.
=> EAST BATHS (Changing Rooms and Saunas)
The east side bath rooms contained a large warm bathing pool fed by water that flowed from the Great Bath. A series of heated rooms were built, as well as swimming pools and changing rooms. The site reached its maximum extent in the 4th century AD. In 2017, after an improvement, this area included the sights and sounds of the Roman bath house.
There are projections, sound effects and reconstructions that show the place at the height of its popularity as a space for work, life and leisure.
This was a special heated room, which had intense dry heat, although it could be turned into a steam room. It was a kind of sauna, where visitors stayed for about two minutes. Then they would be ready for an invigorating oil massage.
=> CIRCULAR BATH
This room provided an invigorating dip in cold water. The site was 1.6 meters deep and there was probably a source of water gushing into the pool. There are projections on the walls of the Circular Bath to show how it was probably used in Roman times. The presentations take place last about 90 seconds.
=> WEST BATHS (Heated Rooms and Plunge Pools)
The rooms on the west side were formed by a series of heated rooms and swimming pools. It is believed that this site allowed simultaneous use by both men and women, but maintained an apparent separation of facilities for them. This site has a well-preserved set of tiles. Hot air circulated through them to warm the floor and walls of the room above.
At the end of the tour, it is possible to experience the famous water of the complex, which has 43 minerals and which has been attracting visitors for centuries due to its healing powers. Originally the treatments involved bathing in the warm waters. In the late 17th century, drinking the water also became a recognized treatment for certain conditions. As it is full of minerals, it has a striking taste and is not very good!
ROMAN THERMAL SHOPS
The Roman Baths of Bath have two gift shops. Here you can buy a wide range of exclusive items and gifts with Roman and Georgian touches. The collection of souvenirs, personal hygiene products, jewelry, cookies and chocolates. In addition, there are postcards and local handicrafts. There are even mini bottles of Bath hot spring water! At street level, there is a shop that can be visited regardless of the ticket to visit the hot springs. Downstairs, there is another shop where you have to buy tickets for the hot springs in order to access it. It is close to Sacred Spring.
RESTAURANTS OF THE ROMAN SPAS
There are two dining options linked to the Roman Baths that are quite popular in the city of Bath. See the options below:
> GRAND PUMP ROOM RESTAURANT
This beautiful neoclassical hall, built in 1795, is next to the Roman Baths. In the past, the Grand Pump Room it was used for the aristocracy to drink thermal water after enjoying the baths. Aristocrats believed in the healing powers of hot springs. Therefore, in addition to bathing in the warm waters, they drank its waters. The place was famous and considered one of the main meeting places of Bath society. The place is even mentioned in two of the books of Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion), one of the city's former illustrious citizens. Its Georgian architectural features remain unchanged, including the marble vase, which still gushes with the rejuvenating spa water. Currently, the place functions as a restaurant offering traditional English meals. It's also a perfect spot for a genuine English afternoon tea.
- Address: 13 Churchyard Abbey, Bath BA1 1LY, England
- Schedules: daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
> THE ROMAN BATHS KITCHEN
O The Roman Baths Kitchen It is an excellent option for a delicious breakfast, a meal or a quick snack. This contemporary restaurant offers dishes prepared with local produce. It has a relaxed atmosphere where children are very welcome! The restaurant is located at the opposite entrance to the Roman Baths, also close to Bath Cathedral.
- Address: 11-12 Abbey Churchyard, Bath BA1 1LY, England
- Schedules: daily from 8:30 am to 6 pm (Friday and Saturday until 10 pm)
HOW TO GET TO THE ROMAN SPA OF BATH
To reach the city of Bath, there are trains departing from both London Paddington and London Waterloo stations. It is necessary to go down bath spa station, which is close to the main attractions of the city. Trips take around 1.5 hours (London Paddington) and up to 2.5 hours (London Waterloo). We recommend purchasing train tickets in advance on the TrainLine to secure the best prices before travelling. see more Tips for traveling by train in England.
EXCURSIONS TO BATH AND ROMAN SPAS
There are several tours and excursions departing from London that include the city of Bath and the Roman Baths in the itinerary. Most of them also include other interesting tours such as a visit to the incredible prehistoric monument stonehenge; O Windsor Castle; the friendly city of salisbury, whose Cathedral houses one of the original versions of Magna Carta, among others. Check out some of the options below:
- From London: 1-Day Tour to Stonehenge and Bath
- stonehenge half day tour from london
- From London: Stonehenge, Bath, Lacock and Avebury Tour
- 1-Day Tour to Stonehenge and Roman Baths from Bath
- Stonehenge, Bath and the Cotswolds Day Trip from London
- Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Lacock and Bath with Lunch
- Stonehenge, Windsor, Bath & Salisbury Tour from London
- Windsor Castle, Bath & Stonehenge: Full-Day Tour from London
- Address: Stall St, Bath BA1 1LZ, England
- Schedules: entry allowed up to 1 hour before closing
- November to February from 9:30 am to 6 pm
- March to mid-June / September and October: 9 am to 6 pm
- mid-June to August: 9 am to 10 pm
- Entrance: from September to January £16.50 / July and August £18 / combined ticket with Museum of Fashion and Victoria Art Gallery – additional £6
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