When you think of Roman ruins, you tend to picture Italy – logically. But one of the most stunningly well preserved examples of Roman architecture can be found in western England. This ancient city was built on hot springs, believed to contain healing properties since the Iron Age. Before Romans invaded, the shrine built here was to the goddess Sulis. Around 60 AD, Romans took Bath and named it Aquae Sulis, while dedicating the city to their own goddess of healing, Minerva.
Bath faced a boom in popularity in the 17th Century, again primarily because of widespread belief in the healing powers of their thermal waters. It was this Georgian period that most of the architecture in the city stems from, including the Pump Room (where patients went to drink the water), and the Royal Crescent (a curved row of houses). Buildings in Bath were constructed using the local golden limestone, making the entire city almost glow against the grey English sky.
Bath was also famously home to Jane Austen for some years, and she wrote about this fashionable city and its social scene in many of her novels.
Today, you can visit the historic Roman Baths on a museum tour, relax at the modern Thermae Bath Spa, or stop by the Pump Room (which is now a restaurant) for a meal and to sample some of the hot spa water. Having tried it during the Roman Baths tour, I have to say it better contain something good for you because the experience is unpleasant.
A small city, Bath is nevertheless home to two universities, visited by millions of tourists every year, and holds the title of a World Heritage Site. From Bath, you can easily hop on a tour bus to the nearby Stonehenge or a train to Bristol or Oxford.
Somerset is already arguably one of the most idyllic regions in the world, and its largest city is no exception. Every corner you turn in Bath brings you face-to-face with something beautiful.