Somerset is a rural county with a wide variety of places for you to visit and explore, from the rolling Mendip Hills to Exmoor National Park and the Somerset Levels. The county offers a wide choice in self-catering holiday cottages, from which you can explore the different facets of the area.

Alongside its countryside, Somerset is also home to a number of quintessentially English locations, brimming with character and history. One such place is the city of Bath.

 

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Bodiam Castle and view of Bath: Karen Arnold

Architecturally Intriguing

The Romans originally developed bath as a recreational centre, building it up around its natural hot springs, and making it a centre for curative treatments and baths.

Under the guidance of Beau Nash, known as the “King of Bath” the city began to change significantly in the early part of the 18th century. Its heyday arrived in the Georgian era, when Ralph Allen and the visionary architect John Wood set out to transform the city.

Of the must see sites of Bath, the buildings of this era are unmissable. In the landscape gardens of Prior Park you’ll find the Palladian Bridge. Built in 1755, the bridge is wonderfully elegant and eye-catching. The National Trust carried out major restoration work on it in the mid-1990s – but the restorers were careful to leave the 18th century graffiti untouched!

Overlooking Royal Victoria Park, the iconic Royal Crescent dates from 1775. It comprises 30 grade I listed houses forming a crescent and in doing so, creating one of the greatest, lasting examples of Georgian architecture. With its houses arranged around a perfect lawn, the Royal Crescent is both imposing and charming. Currently it’s home to a luxury hotel and a museum, alongside private homes.

The Circus is close by to the Royal Crescent. This is three curved townhouses which together form a circular layout. The architect John Wood designed the structure but it was completed by his son of the same name after his death. This striking landmark was home to the painter Thomas Gainsborough for a period.

It was damaged during Bath Blitz of 1942 but was later fully restored and reconstructed.

 

Bathtime in Bath

Visiting Bath, you can experience both the historical Roman Baths and indulge yourself in their contemporary equivalent.

Hot springs have played a key role in the history of Bath, and were the reason the Romans founded the city in the first place.

The original Roman Baths are a testament to their ingenuity and you can really get a sense of the times from wandering amid the ruins and seeing the remains of the Great Bath itself, lying below street level.

The baths also house an interactive museum and the accompanying audio guide helps immerse you in the Roman world.

To truly understand the experience, take yourself off to the Thermae Bath Spa and literally immerse yourself in the thermal waters of the city. The open air, thermally heated outdoor pool overlooking the city is not to be missed.

This contemporary bath complex also offers a wide choice of spa treatments and packages, including a meal in its restaurant.

 

Other Things to See in Bath

Bath Abbey is a formidable example of Gothic architecture and a dramatic structure in the heart of the city. Originally dating from the 7th century, Sir George Gilbert Scott restored it in the 1860s. If you fancy a challenge, climb the Abbey Tower’s 212 steps for rewarding, spectacular 360 degree views of the city.

You might also visit the Holburne Museum, itself a beautiful building surrounded by gardens. Here you can see examples of 18th century paintings, porcelain and sculpture, and experience the exquisite interiors of this one-time hotel.

Traversing the River Avon, Pulteney Bridge has shops built into it and is another beautiful Bath landmark. Viewed from the Parade Gardens park, it captures an enduring sense of beauty that belies its origins as a practical piece of engineering, originally designed to connect the centre with land across the Avon.

Bath is both an historical wonder and an idiosyncratic, contemporary home for individual shops, restaurants and other businesses. As such it retains a dynamic heart central to its charm.