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Roman Baths

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by Tom Tide (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son. I love my city, and love to live here. I write about Bath every day, and about many other things besides. Curious? Have a look at my blog and say hi, at https://tomtide.blog
Published January 19th 2019
Roman Baths- wet and wonderful
The largest Roman pool
2000 years of history


The Roman Baths is an outstanding attraction and offers a fascinating interest into this unique location. A hot spring bubbles up beneath a series of Roman pools and buildings, now lying beneath the bustling streets. With a mixture of excavated rooms, Roman artefacts and an interesting audio guide, it is a wonderful experience.

Looking up to Bath Abbey
A view of Bath showing 2000 years of building: Roman, Medieval and Victorian


A living, breathing museum

What impressed me the most about the visit is how very real the history of the place seemed. The waters still surge up through the Roman stone channels at an incredible rate (one bathful every eight seconds). Visitors are led through, above and below the baths, which once housed treatment rooms, courtyards and a temple. There are Roman artefacts everywhere, and some of them look as if they were made yesterday.

Victorians
A deep pool directly above the springs, loved by the Victorians


The Roman inhabitants/invaders of Bath named it Aquae Sulis, after the healing waters that the local British tribes worshipped. Part of the museum cleverly recreates parts of the temple that once stood at the heart of the Baths, and proudly displays the 'Gorgon Head', which has become a symbol of pride and history in Bath. Lighting recreates the facade of the temple and reveals how vibrantly colourful it once was.

Temple
The Roman temple portico


Gorgon
The Gorgon's head, now a symbol of Bath


Romans, Romans everywhere!

There are rooms after rooms to walk through, with helpful displays and the audio guide to bring them to life. Even more spectacularly though, there are several holograms of Roman bathers projected into the now empty spaces, which truly bring them to life. Visitors truly get a sense of how bustling and busy the place must have been when people came to wash and worship here. There are reminders of the Goddess Minerva everywhere, and even today, people throw coins into the spring, to ask for her help or blessing.

Hologram
Projected Roman bathers, which bring the empty spaces to life


Coins
One of several bathing pools, with modern coin offerings.


There is so much to see. My favourite parts both involve faces, though. Human faces that give the visitor a link directly to the past. One is a reconstructed Roman man, found buried within the Baths excavations. Displayed above his carefully arranged bones, he could almost be one of the visitors today. I loved the whole of his room, actually, which displayed everything from Roman jewellery to glass jugs and bowls. The other face was a Bronze head of the Goddess Minerva, found by Victorian sewage workers below the baths.

Reconstruction
Brought back from the dead


Minerva
Bronze sculpted head of the Goddess Minerva


This attraction has something for everybody and can be navigated at whichever pace the visitor chooses. It does have some uneven and bumpy floors, so it is wise to watch where you walk to avoid stumbling. Having said that, the baths are wheelchair accessible and can accommodate a great deal of visitors in the wide, deep passages. It is a wonderful way to connect with this now busy, bustling city. Take an hour or to out of all of the modern madness, and steep yourself into some history. You will not regret it.

Taste
A chance to taste the warm, healing waters of the spring.


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Why? Awesome, Roman, Historical Fun
When: Consult website for 2019 openings
Phone: 44 (0)1225 477785
Where: Central Bath, at the heart of the city.
Cost: Consult the website. There are concessions for specific groups.
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