Bath, the famous spa town in Somerset, England has attracted people from near and far for centuries to its healing springs and baths. Located in the gorgeous ancient city of Bath, England, the Roman Baths are the ultimate British bucket list item. Its quite astonishing that after 2000 years, the Roman Baths remain one of the top tourist attractions in England.
Known for its beautiful Georgian architecture and as a destination for the wealthy elite of the 18th and 19th Centuries CE. The rich and powerful visited the beautiful city to drink the warm strange tasting water.
The highlight of the Roman Baths
The view from the Terrace is the first view you have as a visitor to the baths, but what you can see from here is less than a quarter of the site as a whole. It is located on the 2nd floor of the Roman Baths overlooking the Great Bath below. It is lined with Victorian statues of the prominent Roman Emperors and British Governors which were carved in 1894 after archaeologists discovered the Roman Baths. Walking around the terrace one realizes that it is located at a street-level even though it is supposed to be the upper level of the baths.
Roman Bathing Complex
The Great Bath
The Great Bath is a large pond filled with hot spring water. It is a centrepiece of the Roman Baths. The Baths were designed for bathing and relaxing and included a wide diversity of rooms with different temperatures, as well swimming pools and places to read, relax and socialize. For many Roman visitors, this may have been the largest building they had ever entered in their life. Niches around the baths have benches for bathers and small tables for drinks or snacks. A large flat slab of stone is set across the point where hot water flows into the bath. It is known today as the diving stone.
An unusual feature of the Roman Baths is this specially heated room known as a laconicum. It was a small room of intense dry heat, although it could have been turned into a steam room by splashing water about. Either way, you would have quickly broken out in a profuse sweat if you stayed there for more than a minute or two. You would then be ready to receive treatment with oil and a strigil to make you invigoratingly clean. A new area of the Roman Baths will be opening this autumn where visitors will be able to see a Roman Laconicum.
The eastern range of the bathhouse contained a large tepid bath fed by water that flowed through a pipe from the Great Bath. It was a bathing section reserved for the women. The Caldarium (Hot Room) is quite interesting because there are realistic digital projections of Roman ladies getting massages.
A cold plunge bath was a feature of many Roman bathhouses, but rarely on this scale! Here you could take an invigorating plunge after treatments in the warm and hot rooms. The West Baths bathing section is reserved exclusively for men. There are digital projections of Roman Bathers on the wall.
The Temple at Bath was built in a classical style and is unusual in Britain as only one other truly classical temple – the temple of Claudius at Colchester – is known. It dates to the later first century AD. The Bath Temple stood on a podium more than two meters above the surrounding courtyard. It was approached by a flight of steps with four large, fluted Corinthian columns supporting a frieze and decorated pediment above. Behind the columns was a large door to the cellar where the cult statue of the goddess was kept. This room would have been dimly lit without windows, with the only light coming through the doorway and from the Temple fire burning before the cult statue.
This is the best-known object in the Roman Baths collection and has fascinated scholars and the public since its discovery in 1790. It was built to worship the Goddess Sulis Minerva. The scary-looking face in the centre is Gorgan’s head, a powerful representation of Sulis Minerva. You can sit on the amphitheatre-style seating and listen to a detailed interpretation of the audio guide as a projector slowly fills in the gaps of the stone fragments and shows you how it would have looked at that time.
The Temple Courtyard
The Temple Courtyard was a sacred space within the Roman Baths used for Roman worshippers to gather and pray. Above the ruins, there is a projector screen showing a reconstructed animation of the courtyard which gives an idea of the site’s original state. There is also the famous gilt bronze head of Sulis Minerva, arguably one of the most famous Roman Britain relics.
Roman Sacred Spring
The Sacred Spring lies at the very heart of the ancient monument. Many of the offerings that were thrown into the Spring throughout the Roman period can be seen in the museum collection today.
The Sacred Spring
The Scared Spring is the very source of thermal water in the Roman Baths. Over 1 million Litres of spring water rise here daily, supplying water to the rest of the complex. The mineral-rich water from the scared spring supplied a magnificent bathhouse that attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire. Many of the offerings that were thrown into the Spring throughout the Roman period can be seen in the museum collection today.
The Spring Overflow
The Spring Overflow is a large structure that drains surplus water from the sacred spring. One finds it impressive that this structure along with the rest of the drain structure in the Roman Baths has been functioning for almost 2000 years. This was the prime example of excellent roman engineering.
The Spa Water Fountain
The Spa Water Fountain is a water dispenser that one drinks natural thermal spring water of the Roman Baths. The water is quite warm with the distinct metallic taste which contains 43 minerals, which for centuries, has attracted visitors to the Bath for curative purposes. Visitors can taste the water from a spa fountain in the west baths, or alternatively from the traditional fountain in the Georgian Pump Room above.
The award-winning audio guides are available in 12 languages. The children’s audio guide is available in English, French, and German and features roman characters and their stories.
Go on a Roman Baths adventure with younger children and ‘Hoot the owl’ in the family trails. There are two trails, one aimed at pre-schoolers and one for primary-aged children, so there is plenty to keep little ones entertained and motivated while they learn about Roman life.
Children and adults will love chatting to the Roman Characters and learning about their lives. Their Knowledge about Roman life and ability to stay in character is captivating and amusing. The characters are based on real people who lived and worked at Aqua Sulis 2000 years ago. Their stories have been reconstructed from evidence found here on site at the Roman Bath.
Gifts & Souvenirs
Pick up a lasting memory of your visit to the Roman Baths. There is a wide range of quality gifts with a Roman and Georgian flavour, including souvenirs toiletries, jewellery, biscuits and chocolates, mini souvenir bottle of water from Bath’s hot spring.
The Pump Room Restaurant is in central Bath and is one of the city’s most elegant places to enjoy stylish modern-British Cuisine. The restaurant is indeed grand, but the style is very relaxed, and not at all stuffy. The food is freshly served, presented well, and tastes amazing.
This is one of the best attractions in Bath. It’s fascinating to visit this incredible place and to see some of the unearthed items on display from excavations over the years. The audio guide adds extra information and brings the place to life. It is well worth a visit.