A trip to Bath wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Roman Baths located in the city centre. To really take advantage of your time there, and to avoid some of the crowds, plan to arrive first thing in the morning, or go later in the day when the tour buses have departed. Grab an audio-guide upon arrival and take your time wandering through this site.
The Roman Baths are part of the City of Bath UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only thermal springs in the England. Built nearly 2000 years ago by the Romans, the temple that was situated here was dedicated to Sulis Minerva…Sulis being the Celtic goddess of healing waters, and Minerva being the Roman goddess of wisdom.
As you walk around the terrace, with the main bath below, you will be surrounded by statues of Roman emperors, as well as governors of England. These statues are only around 100 years old, but they provide the visitor with information about some of the important rulers during the time the temple and baths were used.
Make sure and look all around you, as some of the best views of the Bath Abbey are from the terrace of the Roman Baths.
Once you’ve wandered the terrace, head down to the lower level and begin your tour of this area. I was surprised to discover how much was on this level…which is all below street level.
Walk around the Great Bath where the Romans would have enjoyed relaxing. The water here would have fallen thousands of years ago in nearby hills where it then travels along underground passages, is heated, and then rises to the surface here in Bath.
Before you head inside have a look at where the hot water enters the Great Bath. A large flat stone has been placed here and is now known as “the diving stone”.
Heading inside on the lower level you will find rooms filled with artifacts, including coins, jewellery, masks, and carvings. There is also a tile mosaic unearthed in 1859 close to the city. It has been restored and now is part of the museum’s collection here at the Roman Baths.
An exceptional piece of art, and a key object in the museum, is part of the carved pediment that would have been supported by tall columns at the top of the Temple of Sulis Minerva. It was most likely painted in bright colours at the time the Romans were here, and has been recreated for visitors to sit and enjoy.
Inside you will also find a suspended pathway that takes you over what remains of the temple courtyard. The Roman people would have traveled great distances to pray at the temple of Sulis Minerva, as well as bathe in the healing waters of the baths.
Definitely take your time going through the museum and the different rooms on this lower level. You could easily spend a couple of hours here…there is a lot to look at and learn about. At the very end of the tour make sure and stop at the spa water fountain. Containing 43 minerals the water is reported to cure illnesses and restore health. It has drawn visitors to Bath for centuries, both to drink it and to bathe in it. Definitely worth a sip at the end of your visit!