A famous legendary story around the city of Bath, Somerset in South-West of England is that the first human activity evidence was found during 8,000 years BC. The place had an air of mystery around it, with steam emerging from a green, hot, lush swampy area. Prince Bladud father of King Lear, had contracted leprosy and was cured after bathing in the hot muddy waters. In gratitude, Bladud founded the City of Bath around the springs in 863BC.
Today, in the 21st century these springs continue to draw the travellers, artists, lovers and poets. And why not? With its quaint high street, cobbled lanes, velvety gardens, niche boutiques and Roman honey-coloured buildings feasting your eyes in every corner, the beauty of Bath has to be seen to be believed.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Bath was named as “Aquae Sulis” by the Romans in AD 43. Britain was notorious for colonising other nations but many, many moons ago Britain was a Roman colony. In AD 70, the Romans built a reservoir here around the hot springs before building a sophisticated series of baths and a temple dedicated to the goddess– Sulis Minerva. As a religious shrine and bathing complex, Aquae Sulis attracted visitors from across Britain and Europe, making Bath a popular destination.
With a very distinct air to it, Bath is very different from other English cities. A great walking city, it is a slice of Rome in England. Well below the modern street level, the Roman Baths are known for four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum.
The bath complex is a remarkable example of engineering as well as Roman art and architecture. Once completed in the 4th Century, it housed five healing hot baths, swimming pools and cold rooms, sweat rooms heated by an ingenious early plumbing system. The Great Bath at the centre, became quite a spot. Here, the surrounding statues of the Gods would float eerily in the clouds of steam.
Bathing, during that period, was a ceremonial ritual where one socialised with each other and even carried on business. Today, the museum gives you a taste of Roman life with actors dressed in various characters around the bath area.
The buildings above street level date from the 19th century and are made in the Georgian style. From the Roman Bath, I went to the lush-green Prior Park Landscape Garden, just across the Roman Bath . An intimate 18th century landscape garden, it gives you sweeping views of the city.Built by entrepreneur Ralph Allen with advice from poet Alexander Pope and Lancelot Brown, it is also very close to the famous Palladian Bridge, one of four in the world. A stream tinkling with clear, cold blue water breaks the harmony of the green landscape.
From here you can clearly see the Bath Abbey, an Anglican Parish church founded in the 7th century. A fine example of perpendicular Gothic architecture, the Abbey is characterised by sculptures of angels climbing to heaven, peal of ten bells, 52 windows and a large stained glass window. But its beauty lies in the fact that it easily blends in with other Roman buildings in the area.
If I had to get lost in some place; I would choose Bath for its mesmerising beauty and tranquility. Roman Stoic Philosopher, Seneca,stated once, “travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind.” Bath, would be the perfect place if you’re looking to bring your chutzpah back.