365 Places: Bath
Day 64: Bath, England
When I went to Europe in 1999, there was a very small window of time where I was in England. I landed in London a 6am in the morning, stayed one night and then flew to Bristol, where I then caught a train to Wales.
There were a few places I wanted to see in England, none of which I thought I would see in the short amount of time I had to explore. Two places were high on my list – Bath and Stonehenge. As luck would have it I managed to see both of these historic sites, mainly because I had arrived early enough to the hotel to jump on a day tour.
Bath has long intrigued me as it has so much Roman history which represents an era of colonisation, something I can understand from my experience of living in a country that still needed to come to peace with its brutal colonial history. Though I must say I know very little about the history of England and the many layers of colonisation that this country has endured. It seems ironic that this nation would in turn become one of the most expansive colonisers in western history.
Another thing that I found fascinating was Bath’s history as a spa town. For some strange reason I love to learn about the bathing cultures of different countries, which is part of why I am drawn to Turkish and Scandinavian culture. For millennia, the hot springs of Bath have been used for relaxation, rejuvenation and healing. Mr Wikipedia says about Bath:
The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) c. AD 60 when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although oral tradition suggests that the hot springs were known before then. It became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, leaving a heritage of Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone.
What struck me on the tour to Bath was the lovely layout of the town as it sits nestled in the valley. The UNESCO website discusses in detail is visual beauty of the layout of the town and its architecture. The website says:
Bath’s grandiose Neo-classical Palladian crescents, terraces, and squares spread out over the surrounding hills and set in its green valley are a demonstration par excellence of the integration of architecture, urban design, and landscape setting, and the deliberate creation of a beautiful city. Not only are individual buildings such as the Assembly Rooms and Pump Room of great distinction, they are part of the larger overall city landscape that evolved over a century in a harmonious and logical way, drawing together public and private buildings and spaces in a way that reflects the precepts of Palladio tempered with picturesque aestheticism.
I hope one day to return to the UK to spend a lot more time exploring some of the places that have significance in terms of my family history and broader historical and cultural interests.