Bath is a city in Somerset, South West England. Some people may smile at it, but its name is actually justified by its history. Bath is a natural thermal resort, the only one in UK. In its spring water there is a large variety of mineral salts and the ancient thermal baths combine pleasure and culture, past and present.
Past. It is said the celtic king Bladud, father of the legendary king Leir – Shakespeare’s King Lear – built the first village where the ‘magical’ hot springs where located and consecrated it to a goddess named Sul. The Romans, already passionate about thermal baths, discovered the site and established a colony, and called it Aquae Sulis. They also turned it into a temple for Minerva, being the latter very similar to Sul in ancient beliefs. After they left, the use of hot springs passed through the ages to us.
Today Aquae Sulis‘ ruins are an interesting museum. It may look small from outside, but inside it’s far larger than you imagine and it will take you a few hours to visit. It stretches through ancient Roman baths and other buildings dated XVIII century. The central part is a magnificent colonnaded pool: bathing in it was allowed until the Seventies, but not anymore. It is kind of admirable how much effort took England to protect its invaders’ past.
Present. Since the Romans left, Bath went through several transformations. More baths have been built and the site grew in popularity among kings and personalities. In 1978 a girl died of meningitis and the thermal baths closed. During the Nineties Bath’s municipality raised funds for a new thermal establishment and in 2006 Thermae Bath Spa was inaugurated.
Now there is an indoor pool, another one on the roof with panoramic view, saunas, massage centres and a restaurant. There aren’t any temples, but the indoor pool is called Minerva. And the water used nowadays is the same used by the Romans 2000 years ago.
Past and present combined together…
Where is Bath?