So I was one week away from my trip to Denmark when I began to get impatient, so I booked a coach ticket and spent a day in Bath.
Bath is a city in southwest Somerset, a three hour coach trip from London. The city of Bath has ancient origins, it was originally founded as a spa by the Romans in the first century AD. Due to the presence of hot springs, the Romans built baths and a temple in the area, a tradition they had brought with them from their homelands.
Bath is also famous for its medieval heritage and especially Bath Abbey. We owe a lot to the Georgians for their expansion of Bath through the construction of Georgian period architecture, which gives the impression of a classical style and uniform palatial beauty. The Victorians further expanded the city with fine architecture such as the Theatre Royal with the Grand Pump Room which are both connected to the Roman baths.
As we entered the main high street, which is a 5 minute walk from the bus station, I felt as if I was walking back in time. As you walk up the main high street, you eventually hit a beautiful courtyard on your right, which leads to Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths.
I was absolutely impressed by the Abbey, though small it boasts one of the largest examples of Gothic Perpendicular style in the West Country. Prior to entering the Abbey (it wasn’t yet open) we paid a visit to the Roman baths.
Though pricey (some £13.o0 for a ticket), the baths are definitely worth a visit. The team of historians and archaeologists at the baths have come together to put on an excellent show of the Roman baths. The tourist is guided (with a complimentary audio guide) through the baths, into the main building where we had a the chance to experience the mouth of the hot springs and the Temple of the Goddess Sulis Minerva. The tourist is taken back in time to ancient Roman Britain, we were exposed to daily and religious life in Britain under Rome.
I was glad to have been able to recap on my Roman bath knowledge, frigidarium, tepiderium, calderium…
Our next stop was the beautiful Bath Abbey. The abbey was founded in the 7th century though the building that stands today is predominately in the Perpendicular Gothic style of the 14th and 16th centuries (which led onto the development of a Tudor style).
The first thing that I was absolutely amazed by is the sense of vertical lines through the impressively carved fan vaulting.
Though small in comparison to a cathedral and with only the main vessel and single aisle on each side, the architects have managed to create the illusion of great space and light through the magnificent stained glass windows.
The facade is interesting in that on either side of the western entrance, there are carved ladders on which angels ascend and descend the heavens.
My absolute favorite architectural touch would have to be the external flying buttresses with their beautifully carved pinnacles, which were first introduced in French High Gothic architecture.
There is no entry fee to enter the abbey though donations are welcome. I would definitely suggest paying a visit to Bath Abbey.
Other things to do and see in Bath:
If you like Georgian architecture I would suggest visiting the Royal Crescent, Lansdown Crescent and The Circus which look like the beautiful Georgian houses lined up outside Regent’s Park in London.
The 18th century Pulteney is said to have been designed to resemble the Rialto Bridge in Venice and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It is one of the only bridges to have the double purpose of having a crossing and shops built into it. The design was apparently based on Palladio’s rejected plan for the Rialto in Venice.
Museums: Bath has plenty of museums from the Fashion Museum to the Museum of East Asian Art, both of which are behind the center close to The Circus (for those Georgian architecture fans). There is also the Victoria Art Gallery which is at the end of the Pulteney Bridge.
Have amazing tea/coffee/hot chocolate (or as I did, have them all!) at Jacob’s coffee house! They even do gluten free sweet treats.
Being a center for tourism, Bath has been overtaken with high street brands and restaurant chains. It became a bit suffocating after passing TOPSHOP, New Look, H&M and not one but three EE phone shops. After a couple of hours of seeing the same chain shops and restaurants I began a desperate search for something a little bit different and more independent. Step away from consumerist nightmare to Walcot Street, which runs off of London Street and is a 5 minute walk from the center. Here you will find independent cafes and restaurants, charity and vintage shops and boutique furniture stores. It’s also peaceful and hidden from the throng of tourists in the city center. We even found a little chapel that was hosting a contemporary art exhibition.
So if you’re in London and fancy a quiet day away from the Big Smoke, take a National Express bus to Bath Spa. Tickets can be bought online via the National Express website. Coaches leave hourly from Victoria Coach Station to Bath City Center.
Enjoy! Next stop… Copenhagen!