Following in the Footsteps of the Roman Empire: Exploring the City of Bath, England
Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd
On our second visit to England, we decided to explore another of it’s seemingly endless famous cities, Bath. If you’re looking for a great day trip option from London, Bath is an excellent choice. If you have two days, consider combining it with a day in Oxford. The city of Bath, much like York in the north, and others in England, has a history that intertwines with the Roman Empire.
Early Romans made keen use of the thermal hot springs where Bath eventually developed its name. Creative, right? 🙂 Today, the famous Roman Baths of Bath, are a popular tourist destination, and rightly so. Visitors come from all around to take in the sights of this strange, green water, thought to have healing powers.
For a look at the history of the Roman baths, you have a choice of either audio guide or docent lead tour. If you’re like us and prefer to go at your own pace, grab the audio guide and make your way around this surprisingly vast experience.
When you visit the hot springs, there is an opportunity to taste some of the bath water that the town is known for. Fortunately, the water you receive to drink has been cleaned up and you don’t get to indulge in the green water in its toxic form.
However, despite the color, the water itself is heavy with minerals and as Julie proclaimed on having her sip, “it tastes like rotten eggs”! Having been to Bath once before and tasting the water as well, I can confirm, this is an experience worth trying, but not repeating!
But Bath has more to offer than just its namesake hot springs. Here are some additional stops we recommend making on your visit to Bath:
With a history that can be traced back to the 8th century, Bath Abbey is another fantastic example of Gothic architecture that permeates throughout England. While not as magnificent in size as that of the Minister in York, the abbey is no less impressive. It’s a place where you can certainly feel the history of the city.
Built in 1769 by Robert Adam, this bridge is easily recognizable, and is one of the best examples of Palladian style architecture. Sitting atop the River Avon, Pulteney is an easy walk from the city centre and well worth a visit. Be sure to view the bridge from afar to take in its beauty, and then walk across the bridge to browse its shops and eateries.
A short walk from the city center, the Royal Crescent is another fantastic example of Georgian architecture in a city well known for it. Developed between 1767 and 1774 by John Wood the Younger, the Royal Crescent is a row of thirty houses, of which number one is a museum, and number sixteen is a hotel. Walking the row you’ll see plaques commemorating the famous residents who have lived in the houses over the centuries. Today, many of the homes remain in private ownership and still are lived in. If you’re a fan of period dramas like Julie, then you may recognize the exterior of the crescent from movies such as Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and The Duchess.
Jane Austen Centre
Julie is a big fan of Jane Austen and was excited to follow in her footsteps during our visit to Bath. Jane herself lived in Bath in the latter part of her life, though she wrote very little over that time. The exhibit focuses on Jane’s time living in Bath and how it effected her writing. Two of her novels are the primary focus as they are based in Bath; Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. If you’re interested, and because of course, it’s England, the exhibit also features a tea room.
More of the City
If you’ve had your fill of the main tourist destinations, there is still more to see in Bath. We wandered the streets and followed the river back to the city center before we headed back to London. Part of the fun in visiting a new city is to explore it without agenda. Often, this is when you can stumble on some hidden gems.
We loved our visit to Bath with its rich history and beautiful architecture! Have you been to Bath before? What were your favorite parts? We’d love to hear from you and if you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow along for more!