The Roman Baths at Bath

Long before houses had indoor bathrooms, public baths were the most convenient way for people – rich and poor – to keep clean. They were not just for bathing, however, they were also a great place for socializing.

Founded in 75 AD, the Roman Baths at Bath, which are situated below street level, consist of a sacred spring from which water, as hot as 114° F (46° C) bubbles up at a rate of 257,364 imperial gallons a day, the remains of the Temple of Aquae Sulis, and a museum that houses artifacts found at the site.

The baths have been renovated and expanded many times over the years. During the Roman occupation, a frigidarium (cold bath), caldarium (hot bath) and tepidarium (warm bath) were built. After the Romans withdrew from Britain, the baths fell into disrepair. They were reopened when public bathing became fashionable in England and at the end of the 18th century, the Georgian building surrounding the baths was designed by architect John Wood and his son, John.

The pool is no longer safe for bathing as the water still passes through the lead pipes that were constructed by the Romans.

The first thing you notice  – wether in photos or as you enter – is the green color of the water in the great pool. Unfortunately, it’s not because the water is endowed with any mysterious powers, it comes from algae as the original roof that was in place during the Roman occupation was destroyed following their withdrawal.

I felt the water as it exited the spring. It was cool and buttery to the touch. It would have made for a refreshing and relaxing bath.

Some of the artifacts found in the pool are coins, a gilt-bronze statue of the head of Minerva and messages (curses) inscribed on sheets of lead or pewter that were rolled up and thrown into the spring where the spirit of the goddess dwelt.

A very modern way to arrive at the baths
Corner of the Great Pool where the water enters
View of Bath Abbey from the Great Pool
Cold bath (Frigidarium) - Those are coins in the water
Pans and coins found at Bath
Detail of the original walkway
Servant in period dress
Man in period costume
Heritage recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1987

Bath is one of the best preserved examples of a Roman bath. It received more than a million visitors each year.

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9 comments on “The Roman Baths at Bath

  1. No longer safe to use!? Man, I was excited to hear all about that part, but, nevermind. A UNESCO site… there’s a lot of people that collect UNESCO postcards, I didn’t know this was one of them.

  2. No, but there’s now a new spa that was built/opened round ’04 which can be used.
    Yup, it is a UNESCO site. I didn’t realize there are UNESCO cards…hmmm, next time.

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  4. I showed my eldest son (9y-o)this post, as he is crazy about Roman history. He was impressed and said that he learnt some stuff.

    I’m still reeling that they were built in 75AD. Hard to believe they are that old.

  5. Yes, it was hard for me to believe as well. It makes you realize how well things were done then – the craftsmanship. I don’t know that anything we’ve made/ or are making today will be still standing 1,000 years from now!
    The pipes are still in use but you could see the build-up of rust. But after so long, we have no business complaining! The water, the feel of it is what I remember. Really soft — I never thought I could use that word to describe water — but that was the first thing that came to mind.

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