It’s the only city in Britain with natural hot springs, and like any city with an important geological phenomenon it was shaped around this unique feature – which also apparently has healing properties. Legend has it that the city was founded on the hot springs in 836BC when Bladud, the 9th King of the Britons, was cured of leprosy after bathing in the hot muddy waters.
The great Roman town
However, the city is more well known for the its Roman influence. In 43 AD the romans built the “Aquae Sulis” for rest and relaxation, and on 70 AD they built a reservoir and hot springs, as well as temples and hot springs dedicated to Sulis Minerva – a hybrid goddess of Sulis the Celtic goddess of healing and sacred waters , and Minerva the Roman goddess of wisdom. People visited from all over Britain and Europe, and even after the Romans left in 410 AD and the sanctuary fell into disrepair, its waters and those of other baths in the area continued their use on-and-off by ruling invaders, kings, holy men, healers and wounded soldiers for more than 1500 years.
The Roman baths are one of the biggest tourist draws to the town, so now at the Thermae Bath Spa you can enjoy the mineral rich waters the Celts and Romans enjoyed 2000 years ago. Visitors come here and spend hours being pampered with two-thousand-year-old therapies in the only natural thermal spa in Britain.
World renowned architecture
Its Roman heritage and baths have justifiably had the City of Bath designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s not just the history of health and relaxation that are significant to the ancient town. Here you’ll find some of the most striking architectural wonders in Europe, such as the Royal Crescent. Built between 1767 and 1774 it’s considered one of the crowning achievements of 18th century urban architecture. Not all Bath hotels have such an exclusive address, but one of the 30 houses is the Royal Crescent Hotel and No.1 Royal Crescent, the first of the 30 superb houses to be built is open to the public, each room illustrating the finest in authentic Georgian interior design.
Believe it or not, the south of England has growing renown as a wine producing region, even rivalling Champagne, the world heavyweight in sparkling wines. This is of course another left-over from Roman occupation, the white grape Bacchus, created in 1933, and named after the Roman god of wine, has found prime growing conditions here.
Taking the train from Bath to Avoncliff you’ll have a pleasant hour long walk to whet your appetite for when you arrive at Quoins Vineyard, one of only seven commercially producing organic vineyards in England. Slightly further away near Bradford-on-Avon is the ward winning Avonleigh Organic Vineyard and Orchard. Its fruit was planted in 2005 and by 2006 it had achieved fully organic status.
A day touring and tasting at a vineyard sounds like a pretty decent way to end a weekend of spa pampering – and at least the walk through the countryside will be the exercise quota to justify the indulgence, not to mention the increasing number of reports suggesting that a little drop of wine may have one or two potential health benefits. So there’s no excuse not to go. History, pampering and award winning wine, sounds like a safe bet to me!