Bath is a world heritage site and a fascinating city in England. Home to the world famous Roman Baths, Bath has been a center of leisure and entertainment right since Roman Times. While Hot Springs and the Roman Bath are its most famous attraction, Bath is also popular for its theatres, museums and sporting venues. Bath plays host to a slew of cultural events like the International Music Festival, Plays, Guitar Festival, Literary Festival and the Film Festival.
Bath is located in the county of Somerset and is 156 km west of London and 21 km south-east of Bristol. A train from Paddington can take you from London to Bath in 90 minutes.
If you are driving down, then Bath is located just 10 miles from junction 18 of the M4 motorway which runs from London and Heathrow Airport. M5 motorway is a good option from the North, Devon and Cornwall. Wales is just a short drive west on the M4 motorway
For a list of prominent Guest Houses and Hotels available in Bath, you can visit http://www.stayinbath.org/
Bath used to be known as Aquae Sulis during the Roman Times when it was a small town in the Roman province of Britannia. Prior to the Roman Conquest of Britain in AD 43, Bath was home to the shrine of Sulis, the God of Celtic Britons. Today Bath is an Entertainment capital. Bath hosts several events like the International Music Festival, Guitar Festival, Literary Festival and the Film Festival. Theatre Royal and Little Theatre are also very popular for their shows.
The source of the Hot Springs of Bath is three Well Heads. The King's Spring, Cross Spring and Hetling Spring contribute 1.25 million liters of hot water each day at 45° centigrade! There is an interesting theory about the origin of the Hot springs. It is supposed to be Rain water from the last 10000 years getting pushed up through faults in limestone beneath the surface.
The Roman Baths are popular Public Bathing centers. The complex has the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and a Museum.
The museum has artifacts from the Roman period which were thrown into the Sacred Spring as offerings to the goddess. There are 12,000 Roman currency coins on display.
The Grand Pump Room in the Abbey Church Yard is another popular attraction. The main block was built by Thomas Baldwin in 1789. Tourists can take the waters from the warm spring which fills the adjacent Roman Baths. Thermae Bath Spa is a combination of the old spa and a modern building complex. Designed by Grimshaw Architects the main Spa building is constructed in Bath stone and enclosed by a glass envelope. Other than the 18th Century Hot Bath, it also has two natural thermal baths, an open-air rooftop pool, an indoor pool, a large steam room and 20 spa treatment rooms. The contemporary looking building is in contrast to its Georgian surroundings.
Bath has always been synonymous with Music events. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I used to visit Bath to watch The Choristers from Wells perform at Bath Abbey. The Bath International Music festival is an immensely popular annual event. Held over 12 days in May-June, it features orchestral, chamber & contemporary classical music, contemporary jazz, world and folk music.Bath Abbey is home to the Klais Organ and is the largest concert venue in the city with about 20 concerts and 26 organ recitals each year.
Bath Film Festival was established in 1991 by members of Bath Film Society. The event was a once a year phenomenon to begin with. Today the festival has been extended with an outreach programme. The purpose of this program is to take the cinema experience out to communities which have no immediate access to film through portable equipment. Some of the screenings are in Open Air format where the whole affair becomes a picnic for the audience!The Bath Fringe Festival is an interesting concept. It was set up to make up for the things that people wanted but was not covered in the Music Festival of Bath. Some of the things covered in the Fringe Festival are Affordable Art, Spoken Word, Digital Arts & Media, Standup Comedy, Cabaret, Physical Theatre, Circus Arts, Folk & World Music, Latin Dance and Jazz.
Annual competition is held in Bath to find the best poet, singer or storyteller. This is actually an Iron-Age Celtic Druid tradition where Druids were the law-makers, judges and ceremonial leaders, Ovates were mediums, healers and prophets and Bards were poets, musicians and history-keepers. The title is actually used to develop artistic projects in the area. The winner also leads evening Bardic walks around the city!
Jane Austen lived in Bath during the early 1800s. Jane Austen set two of her six published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, in Bath. In Northanger Abbey Jane writes;
'They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; - her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already'.
The Jane Austen Centre is a permanent exhibition which tells the story of Jane Austen's Bath experience. The theme of the center is the effect that visiting and living in Bath had on Jane and her writing.
The Victoria Art museum is Art Museum and named to celebrate Queen Victoria's sixty years on the throne. On display are over 1,500 decorative arts like oil paintings from 17th century to the present day. Works from artists like Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Jones Barker and Walter Sickert are on display.
The Circus is a fine example of Georgian architecture designed by the architect John Wood, the Elder and completed in 1768. Inspired by the Roman Colosseum, the Circus is a circular space surrounded by large townhouses.
There are three façades each with a different order of architecture. The ground level is in Doric, then Ionic on the middle and Corinthian on the upper floor. Each Floor becomes progressively more ornate we go up.
Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Mons Badonicus (c. 500 AD), where King Arthur is said to have defeated the Anglo-Saxons.
For a travelogue on how to spend 2 days in London visit 48 hrs in London.
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