Open: daily

Closed 25- 26


Description of Bath

The Roman baths located in the town of Bath (Somerset) are a building of historical interest, one of the most important for tourism in England. The complex is very well preserved, thanks to which the architectural elements present in the building can be appreciated very well. The baths themselves are located below street level and the buildings built as a result of their discovery can be divided into four groups among which are the "Sacred Spring", the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath and the Museum House. These structures, which are located at street level, date from the 19th century.

The baths are a major tourist attraction and can receive up to a million visitors a year. In 2005 they were featured on the television show of the same name as one of the "Seven Natural Wonders" of the West Country. Once inside the complex, visitors can view the baths and museum, although they cannot access the water. An audio guide in multiple languages is available.


How the hot springs in Bath are formed

The water that ultimately makes up the core of the thermal baths of Bath originally comes from the rains that fall on the Mendip Hills. This percolates through limestone aquifers located at depths between 2,700-4,300 meters, where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to 64°C (147.2°F) and 96°C (204, 8°F). Under this pressure, hot water rises to the surface along localized fissures and faults in the limestone. This process is similar to the artificial one known as the Enhanced Geothermal System which also makes use of the high pressures and temperatures below the earth's crust. Hot water at a temperature of 46 °C (114.8 °F) rises here every day at a rate of 1,170,000 liters (257,364 imp gallons), from a geological fault (the Pennyquick Fault). In 1983 a new hole appeared inside the complex that ensured a continuous and clean supply of water to the facilities.3



Roman empire

The first hot spring sanctuary erected on this site was built by the Celts, who dedicated it to the goddess Sulis, whose Roman equivalent would be Minerva. However, the name of Sulis continued to be used after the Roman conquest of Britain, a fact proven by the name of the town of Aquae Sulis (literally, "the waters of Sulis"). The Roman temple was built between the 60s and 70s and the thermal complex over the next 300 years. During the Roman occupation of the island under the reign of the Emperor Claudius, he ordered his engineers to bring oak poles in order to to provide the complex with a solid foundation and to surround the source from which the hot springs flowed with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. The complex included a caldarium (hot bath), a tepidarium (warm bath) and a frigidarium (cold bath). After the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain in the fifth century, the building fell into disuse and was eventually buried under constant process sedimentation. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle suggests that the original baths were destroyed during the sixth century.



The baths have undergone various modifications, including those from the 12th century, when Juan de Tours built a building for curative waters at the same source as the spring that provides water to the baths, and those from the 16th century, when the The city government built a new Queen's Bath located to the south of the spring. The spring is currently located within a complex built in the 18th century by architects John Wood (father and son). Visitors could drink the water from the spring located in a room called the Pump Room, a neoclassical-style room that is still in use today, both to collect the spring water and to house visitors. The Victorian extension followed the neoclassical tradition established by the Woods. In 1810 William Smith opened a new building called the Bath Hot Spring in the lower part of the complex, where he found that the economic failure of the baths was not due to the drought of the spring, but to the fact that it circulated through a new channel. . Smith restored the course of the water to its original course and the baths filled without any problem.

Visitors enter through a room built in 1897 by J. M. Brydon. It is an easterly continuation of the Great Pump Room with a glass dome on the ceiling. Construction of the Great Pump Room began in 1789 by Thomas Baldwin. Baldwin resigned in 1791 and John Palmer took over the project until its completion in 1799.10 The elevation of Abbey Church Yard has a center consisting of four Corinthian columns with entablatures and pediment. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. The north colonnade was also designed by Thomas Baldwin, similar to the south colonnade except for the addition in the second case of an upper storey erected in the late 19th century. The museum and the Queen's Bath included a "bridge" built in 1889 by C. E. Davis spanning the space between York Street and the City Laundry.



The museum that houses the thermal complex exhibits utensils from Roman times, including those that were thrown into the sacred spring, probably as offerings to the goddess Sulis. Among the various discoveries made in the area, 12,000 Roman coins have been found, representing the largest votive offering in Britain. A gilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva found in 1727 can also be seen in the museum.

The temple of the bath was raised on a podium more than two meters high and the temple was accessed by climbing a few steps. At the entrance were four large fluted columns in the Corinthian style supporting a frieze and a decorated triangular pediment. Some parts of the pediment, which measured 7.9 meters wide and 2.4 meters high, are on display in the museum. Notable was the powerful central image of the Gorgon's head on the pediment, which looked from a height of 15 meters to those who approached the temple.

In the corners of the pediment there is a pair of tritons, a mythological creature half man half fish and servant of the god of the waters, Neptune. The center of the lower left part is decorated by a dolphin, while the lower right part features a hidden owl. The central part is decorated with engravings of women carrying an oak leaf shield, thereby symbolizing Victory. Above all, a large star stands out, located in what would be the highest part of the building. Subjugated to the star is the gorgon's head with snakes entwined between its beards, wings above the ears, and a large mustache. However, there is debate as to whether this relief represents a gorgon, as this creature it is normally female. There are alternative interpretations that see the head as representing the god of the sea, Oceanus, or as the Sun god of the Celts.

The remains of the sauna heating system, the hypocaust, are also on display.



Late 19th-century statues of Roman emperors and governors of the province of Britain are vulnerable to the effects of acid rain and have therefore had to be protected by applying a coat of varnish every few years. inside the temple they are vulnerable to hot air which had the effect of depositing corrosive salts. To try to reduce this erosion, a new ventilation system was installed in 2006.


Water safety

The City of Bath was vested with responsibility for the Hot Springs in the Royal Charter of 1591 granted by Queen Elizabeth I. This obligation has now passed to the body known as the Bath and North East Somerset Council, which carries out policing of the pressure, temperature and flow of these waters. The analyzes carried out on these waters show that they contain sodium, calcium, and chloride and sulfate ions in high concentrations.

The water that flows through the baths is not considered safe for bathing, in part due to its still current use as a passageway for various pipes and the discovery during World War II of the radioactivity it contained. However, the greatest danger of all lies in its status as a place of spread of infectious diseases. In 1979 a girl accidentally drank some of the bath water while swimming in them and died within five days of amoebic meningitis. Tests showed that the origin of the meningitis was a bacillus of Naegleria fowlerii26 which girl had fucked in the pool. After this death, the pool was closed to the public, the state in which it remains today. A building known as Thermae Bath Spa, designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, was built in the vicinity of the Roman baths. This building allows its visitors to bathe in water from wells drilled immediately before the end of its construction.