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June - July 2007


Travel

TIMELESS BATH: A city with 2000 years of heritage

by Bajrang Bahadur Mathur


The beautiful, elegant and historic Royal City of Bath is some 100 miles from London in the south-west region of England. It has a Roman Spa heritage together with magnificent and glorious 18th century architecture. Most of the city is built in so called honey-stone, and laid out in the valley of the Avon River. It has a similarity with Rome, as it is also surrounded by seven wooded hills. All features of the city have been influenced by fashionable Georgian society with all the wealth at their disposal. They built impressive public and residential buildings mostly in neoclassical Palladian style.


Roman Baths in pastel colours


Note the terraces of the open air roof top pool of Thermae Bath


Minerva Pool of the Thermae Bath

Museum of Roman Baths: the main attraction of the city has always been the 2000 years old Roman Baths fed by the only natural hot spring in the British Isles. The city derives its name from it. This is one of the best researched and well illustrated archaeological sites. The remarkable museum shows all aspects of the comfortable and sophisticated life of the Roman people.

Thermae Bath Spa: is also nearby, in the centre of the town. It has been open to the public since summer 2006. The Millennium Commission funded the project, and the Local Council together with the contractors struggled with its completion. The scheme involved five old Georgian buildings, which were converted and restored into an ultra modern Spa. It has not only given a new lease of life to the dilapidated historic buildings, but also revived and brought back the Spa culture to Bath.


The Circus, a desirable residential address


Shops over Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon with a weir in the foreground


Beautiful sculpture, drinking fountain

The spa facilities include main Minerva Pool, an open-air rooftop pool with terraces providing breathtaking views of the city and surrounding hills, Turkish baths with three steam rooms at different temperatures, a beauty treatment salon including body massage, and a restaurant with bar. In fact, this is a place to communally bathe in natural hot spring water, relax and get healing and therapeutic treatments to invigorate the soul and mind.

Bath Abbey: is the landmark building as its tower dominates the city’s skyline. The main features of the Abbey are the Tudor fan-vaulted roof and the stained glass windows. The great east window is of particular interest as it has 56 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.

Pulteney Bridge: is a unique 18th century structure over the River Avon as it ranks amongst three bridges in the world which have a row of shops on them. The river near the bridge has a dramatic swirl at the horse shoe weir.

The Royal Crescent: is the longest crescent in Europe. It is a majestic residential block facing over Royal Victoria Park and beyond to the river valley and hills. Each house originally had a kitchen in the basement, dining room on the ground floor, living room on the first floor, and bedrooms on the upper floors.


Abbey Green in pastel colours


Oldest house in Bath,
Sally Lunn House


Ovens where Sally Lunn baked
buns in the 17th Century


Typical residential architecture


Roman Guard at Bath Abbey


Stained Glass window at
the Abbey


Tudor fan-vaulted roof

The Circus: is a set of four quadrants of five storey high buildings, constructed in Georgian style and enclosing a circular open space with large plane trees. The Circus was completed in 1767 and was the first of its kind in the country. Famous people who lived here include Thomas Gainsborough (portrait painter), missionary David Livingstone, General Clive of India and the arctic explorer Perry.

Sally Lunn House: not on such a grand scale as the Royal Crescent or the Circus, this is an interesting and the oldest surviving house in Bath, built in 1482. It is now known as Sally Lunn House because of a woman who lived here in the 17th century for a few years. She used to make buns with her own special recipe, and these are still being sold in the restaurant as part of a light snack or a main meal. The kitchen with its original ovens is in the basement, and this is now converted into a small museum.

There are other attractions in Bath and these include the Jane Austin (famous writer) Centre, the Assembly Rooms and Museum of Costume, and various art galleries.

The City of Bath claims to be the finest Georgian City in Britain with plenty to see and do in and around its environment.

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