Bath is a beautiful City in the South West of England. It is situated 97 miles west of London with a population of 83,992.
The city was first established as a spa resort with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis which means the waters of Sulis, by the Romans in AD 43. The Romans built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs, which are the only naturally occurring hot springs in the United Kingdom.
Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973. Much later, it became popular as a spa resort during the Georgian era, this is the era that left the biggest mark on the architecture of Bath with the beautiful Bath stone buildings.
The City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987. Tourism is massively important for Bath with over one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city each year. There is a huge amount of culture in Bath, from the Theatres and Museums to the fantastic buildings and architecture.
Bath is at the bottom of the Avon Valley, and near the southern edge of the Cotswold’s, a range of limestone hills designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The surrounding hills give Bath its steep streets and make its buildings appear to climb the slopes. The water which bubbles up from the ground, as geothermal springs, previously fell as rain on the Mendip Hills. The water bubbles to the surface at temperatures of between 64 to 96 Degrees C. The Bath springs are the only natural hot springs in the UK. Three of these springs feed the thermal baths.
The city has several public parks, the main one being Royal Victoria Park, which is a short walk from the centre of the city. It was opened in 1830 by an 11-year-old Princess Victoria, and was the first park to carry her name. The park is overlooked by the Royal Crescent. It has a variety of attractions, including a skateboard ramp, bowling, tennis courts, a putting green and a 12- and 18-hole golf course, a pond, open air concerts, and a popular children’s play area. It has received a “Green Flag award”, the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales, and is registered by English Heritage as a Park of National Historic Importance. The botanical gardens were formed in 1887 and contain one of the finest collections of plants on limestone in the West Country.
Other parks in Bath include, Alexandra Park, which crowns a hill and overlooks the city, Parade Gardens, along the river front near the Abbey in the centre of the city, Sydney Gardens, known as a pleasure-garden in the 18th century. Jane Austen wrote of Sydney Gardens that “It would be pleasant to be near the Sydney Gardens. We could go into the Labyrinth every day.”
Alexandra, Alice and Henrietta parks were built into the growing city among the housing developments. There is also a linear park following the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway line, and, in a green area adjoining the River Avon, Cleveland Pools were built around 1815. It is now the oldest surviving public outdoor lido in England, and plans have been submitted for its restoration.
One of Bath’s principal industries is tourism, with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city on an annual basis. All significant stages of the history of England are represented within the city, from the Roman Baths (including their significant Celtic presence), to Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, to Thermae Bath Spa this decade.
The size of the tourist industry is reflected in the almost 300 places of accommodation including over 80 hotels, and over 180 bed and breakfasts, many of which are located in Georgian buildings. The city also contains about 100 restaurants, and a similar number of public houses and bars.
Several companies offer open-top bus tours around the city, as well as tours on foot and on the river. Since 2006, with the opening of Thermae Bath Spa, the city has attempted to recapture its historical position as the only town in the United Kingdom offering visitors the opportunity to bathe in naturally heated spring waters.
There are many Roman archaeological sites throughout the central area of the city, but the baths themselves are about 6 metres below the present city street level. Around the hot springs, Roman foundations, pillar bases, and baths can still be seen, however all the stonework above the level of the baths is from more recent periods.
Bath Abbey was a Norman church built on earlier foundations, although the present building dates from the early 16th century and shows a late Perpendicular style.
Most buildings in Bath are made from the local Bath Stone, and many date from the 18th and 19th century. The dominant style of architecture in Central Bath is Georgian. Many of the prominent architects of the day were employed in the development of the city. The original purpose of much of Bath’s architecture is concealed by the honey-coloured classical façades, in an era before the advent of the luxury hotel, these apparently elegant residences were frequently purpose-built lodging houses, where visitors could hire a room, a floor, or even an entire house for the duration of their visit, and be waited on by the house’s communal servants.
The Circus consists of three long, curved terraces designed by the elder John Wood to form a circular space inspired by the Coliseum in Rome.
The best known of Bath’s terraces is the Royal Crescent, built between 1767 and 1774 and designed by the younger John Wood. Wood designed the great curved façade of what appears to be about 30 houses with Ionic columns on a rusticated ground floor that was the extent of his input. Each purchaser bought a certain length of the façade, and then employed their own architect to build a house to their own specifications behind it.
This system of town planning is betrayed at the rear of the crescent, here you can see the mixture in building styles. While the front is completely uniform and symmetrical
Around 1770 the architect Robert Adam designed Pulteney Bridge, using as the prototype for the three-arched bridge spanning the Avon an original, but unused, design by Palladio for the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Thus, Pulteney Bridge became not just a means of crossing the river, but also a shopping arcade. The bridge was named after Frances and William Pulteney, the owners of the Bathwick estate for which the bridge provided a link to the rest of Bath.
The heart of the Georgian city was the Pump Rooms, which, together with its associated Lower Assembly Rooms, was designed by Thomas Baldwin, a local builder responsible for many other buildings in the city, including the terraces in Argyle Street, and the Bath Guildhall.
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