City of Bath: World Heritage Site
PUBLISHED: 10:21 29 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:22 29 June 2016
As one of Jane Austen’s heroine’s once said: “Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath?”
Countless visitors, like Jane Austen herself, have been smitten by this remarkably beautiful city and its magnificent rural setting. Indeed, like the cities of Florence and Salzburg, the city Bath has been designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.
And yet Bath does not rest on its considerable historic laurels, Roman or otherwise. It is a thriving, vibrant and prosperous community, today perhaps more than ever.
360 degree views
For spa-lovers, the world-class Thermae Bath Spa is the latest chapter in a story which goes back at least 2000 years. The spa offers a unique opportunity to relax and bathe in the only natural thermal waters in the country. Enjoy 360 degree views of Bath from the impressive rooftop swimming pool or unwind in the aroma steam rooms.
A rich history
The Romans arrived in Britain in the 1st century AD and quickly recognised the unique potential of Bath’s hot springs. A visit to the Roman Baths, among the finest Roman remains in Europe, provides abundant evidence of the activities they enjoyed here. Almost next door, on the site of the magnificent 15th century Bath Abbey, King Edgar, first monarch of all England, was crowned more than 1,000 years ago. Moving on to Bath’s Golden Age, the Georgian era, there are enough world-class architectural treasures within 10 minutes walk to keep the most avid enthusiast captivated for days on end. The Circus, The Royal Crescent, The Pump Room and Pulteney Bridge, for example, are all ranked among the best in the world.
For art’s sake
Lovers of art, culture and history can indulge themselves in no less than 18 museums and galleries covering such themes as astronomy, architecture, photography, costume, Far Eastern art, industrial heritage, American history, Jane Austen, sculpture, antiquarian books and Old Masters. Throughout the year there is a colourful cascade of festivals such as the Great Bath Feast, Mozartfest, Film Festival and Jane Austen Festival. The Theatre Royal also offers many pre-West End previews and there is a vivid culture of live music and entertainment throughout the city. At the Holburne Museum from 25 June to 2 October see the paintings of wild animals by George Stubbs (1724-1806).
Shop, eat, stay
Bath is renowned for the quality and variety of its independent shops. And after sampling its broad range of fashion, art, antiques and crafts, sustenance is readily available in more than 150 restaurants, cafes and gastro pubs. In fact, despite its small size, Bath has more Michelin star restaurants than any other location outside London. As you might expect, the city and its surroundings are very well supplied with places to stay. Whether you prefer five star grandeur, a family hotel, bed and breakfast or self-catering facilities, you will find Bath can accommodate all your needs. Further information: visit visitbath.co.uk or contact Bath Tourism Information Centre on 0906 711 2000 (calls 50p per minute).
On the doorstep
Those who wish to travel further afield will also find Bath a convenient base from which to explore the Cotswolds, the Mendips – both designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and the many historic villages and valleys of undiscovered North East Somerset. The recently opened Radstock Museum brings alive the fascinating social and industrial heritage of this little-known yet intriguing area. Wells, Glastonbury, Bristol, Stonehenge, Avebury, Longleat and National Trust properties at Prior Park, Dyrham Park and Stourhead are some of the many notable destinations within a short drive of the city. Enjoy a Father’s Day barbecue at Prior Park Landscape Garden on 19 June from noon until 2pm. nationaltrust.org.uk
Lovers of the outdoors will delight in the spectacular floral displays of the city’s many parks and gardens. The 57 acre Royal Victoria Park, opened in 1830 by Queen Victoria when she was aged 11, is just a short walk from the city centre. Not only are so many of Bath’s own wealth of attractions easily reached on foot, walking enthusiasts will doubtless be delighted to learn that the area has a great deal more to offer them when they visit. From scenic strolls along the River Avon and the Kennet & Avon Canal or the Bath Skyline (the most popular National Trust walk in the UK) to more ambitious adventures along the Cotswold Way, the views and surroundings in the vicinity are truly inspirational.