England - Bath

    

The city of Bath, located in the Somerset County, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting many tourists every year.

The history of this area is closely connected to its modern value and popularity. The Romans constructed baths here, using the hot springs for their medicinal and therapeutic use. The Celts, who later invaded the area, used these baths as their shrine to the goddess Sulis (worshipped for her life-giving powers as well as her willingness to inflict curses on her devotees’ enemies). The temple was built between 60 and 70 of our Common Era (CE), and the development of the baths followed gradually over the course of the next 300 years. The spring was surrounded by lead-lined stone chambers. In the 100’s, a wooden building was built to enclose the hot bath, warm bath and cold bath. The entire city was surrounded by high walls in the following century.

However, during the fifth century, the Romans had to return to Italy suddenly, leaving England to fend for itself. This led to the disintegration of many of the great structures and empires that they had established, including Bath. Following this, Bath came under the rule of various entities. In the ninth century, Bath was made a royal possession under the leadership of King Alfred. This king established a new town layout. It was around this time that the Anglo-Saxons named the town Baðum, Baðan or Baðon, which meant "at the baths". This is the root of its modern name. In 1590, Bath was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth I.

Image of the high view point of Bath Abbey surrounded by Georgian architecture and countryside in Bath, England, UK
High view point of Bath Abbey surrounded by Georgian architecture and
countryside in Bath, England, UK

When Thomas Guidott set up his practice in Bath in 1668, he became intrigued by the potential medicinal values of the hot springs. He wrote several pieces regarding the health values, which raised awareness throughout England. This led to many of the main aristocrats of the time travelling to Bath to benefit from its springs’ curative powers. Such increased awareness and popularity demanded a necessary revamp and development of the town of Bath, which was now becoming frequented by the elite of the country. By 1801, the population of Bath was over 40 000 people, an indication of what a significant city this was in England at the time.

The Second World War saw massive destruction of large parts of Bath, and over 400 of its residents were killed. After the war, there was a formal review and the severe lack of housing was exposed. So, vast areas of Bath were cleared and redeveloped. The style of these homes was very different to the Georgian style that was prominent from pre-war years. Much of the building that took place in the 1950’s was council housing, which, while economical, was not a very attractive style. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, priorities changed from the building of housing to the preservation of historical buildings. This was so successful that, in 1987, Bath was declared a World Heritage Site.

In terms of its physical geography, Bath is situated at the bottom of the Avon Valley, near the edge of the Cotswolds. The prolific presence of these hills means that Bath boasts a number of very steep streets, with buildings constructed on sheer hill faces. The city is bisected by the River Avon, which has been made into one single channel. The area of Bath totals only 29 square kilometres, or 11 square miles.

The hot spring water originates from rainfall on the Mendip Hills. This water drops as far as 4300 metres below the surface of the earth, where it can be heated to between 64 °C and 96 °C. As it heats, it expands, and is forced back up through limestone fissures and faults to the surface of the earth. Limestone is rich in minerals, giving the water the medicinal value it enjoys.


Tourist attractions in Bath:

• The Roman Baths
• The Jane Austen Centre
• The Victoria Art Gallery
• Bath Abbey
• The Fashion Museum

For more information, please view: http://www.cityofbath.co.uk/