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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bath

Bath was, and still is, the most celebrated spa in England, the only resort to boast hot springs and one of England's most elegant and attractive towns. Lying sheltered in the valley of the Avon between the Cotswolds and the Mendip Hills, the city, with its well proportioned Georgian houses built of honey colored stone, its attractive squares and its parks, has a townscape unsurpassed in Britain. Some 500 of its buildings are statutorily protected as being of historical or architectural importance and almost every other house carries a plaque with the name of some eminent, usually 18th or 19th century, figure whose home it once was. The city of Bath became a World Heritage Site in 1987. The numerous theatres, museums and cultural activities have made the city a popular tourist attraction.

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Roman Baths and Pump Room

The Roman Baths in Bath.
The Roman Baths and the Temple of Sulis Minerva, built in about 75 BC around the largest of the three hot springs, are extraordinarily impressive. The water, containing some 43 different minerals, gushes from a depth of 9,800ft/3,000m at a rate of 1,250,000 liters/275,000 Imperial gallons a day, with a constant temperature of 46.5°C/116°F. The Romans named the temple after the Celtic goddess Sul who they associated with their own goddess Minerva. The complex of buildings around the spring served not only to supply the baths with mineral water but also for worship of the two deities, many votive offerings being recovered from the wells. Systematic excavations began in the late 19th century, the most recent being conducted between 1981 and 1983. Many of the artifacts found in the baths, temples and sacred springs are on display in the museum although some have also been left in situ. Visitors should give priority to seeing the Great Bath, which measures 39 x 78ft/12 x 24m and is nearly 6ft/2m deep. In Roman times it was roofed over with barrel vaulting and equipped with side ducts. The statues and balustrades are of a later date. Other items of interest include the Gorgon's head on the temple pediment, altar-stones, mosaics, votive offerings (including tablets inscribed with curses) and various fragments of sculpture, among them part of a gilded bronze figure of Minerva.
The Classical style Pump Room dates from Georgian times. As well as its gilded decoration it is embellished with a statue of Beau Nash and a clock by Tompion. The terrace overlooks the King's Bath.
Address: Abbey Church Yard, Stall Street, Bath BA1 1LZ, England

King's Bath

The King's Bath is a medieval structure from about 1100 and much altered in the 19th century. The many brass rings were tokens of gratitude from appreciative beneficiaries of Bath's waters.

Temple of Sulis Minerva

Part of the Roman Bath complex is the temple the Romans named after the Celtic goddess Sul whom they associated with their own goddess Minerva.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey.
The late-Gothic cathedral of the Bishop of Bath and Wells is known simply as "the Abbey", a reflection of the long history of abbey churches preceding it on the site. The present building was started by Bishop Oliver King who, on his consecration in 1495, dreamed of angels ascending and descending ladders to and from heaven, at the same time hearing a voice declare that "the crown should plant an olive tree and the king restore the church". This he interpreted as a sign to rebuild the church. His dream is immortalized in stone on the west front where, above olive trees encircled by crowns, angels can be seen ascending and descending tall ladders surrounded by apostles. The figure of Christ appears high up in the tympanum.
The interior of the church has three aisles and unusually shallow transepts. Superb fanvaulting by the Vertue brothers adorns the chancel and side aisles (1504-18). When building was finally completed at the end of the 16th century (after several lengthy interruptions), there were insufficient resources to vault the nave. Its fan tracery consequently dates only from the late 19th century. Flying buttresses were added at the same time to give increased strength. The somewhat plain interior is chiefly distinguished by the tombs of various 16th and 17th century bishops, as well as by numerous tablets and memorials.
Address: Abbey Churchyard, Bath BA1 1LT, England

Queen Square

The Georgian architecture for which Bath is famous is found chiefly in the northwest of the city in streets such as Queen Square with its beautifully symmetrical facades (1729-36) which were designed by John Wood the Elder (1704-54).
The north side of Queen Square is one of the earliest examples of a row of houses composed as a unified classical facade.

Gay Street

The Georgian architecture for which Bath is famous is found chiefly in the northwest of the city in street such as Gay Street, a popular place for taking the air, was designed by John Wood the Elder (1704-54).
Gay Street links Queen's Square to the Royal Circus.

Circus

The Circus in Bath.
The Georgian architecture for which Bath is famous is found chiefly in the northwest of the city. The perfectly proportioned, classically modeled Circus (1754 onwards), was designed by John Wood the Elder (1704-54).
This was the first of new urban forms developed by John Wood the Elder. It is a perfect circle of three stories with different classical orders (column types) on each story.
It is composed of individual houses of Palladian influence (high Renaissance) which run as a row.

Royal Crescent

Pedestrian in front of the Royal Crescent in Bath.
Royal Crescent, a monumental 200yd/184m semicircular sweep of residential town houses with a breathtakingly uniform, palacelike facade, was the work of John Wood the Younger (1728-1781) whose inspired masterpiece dispensed for the first time with the classic town square in the interests of integrating nature and urban architecture.
Most of the town houses are still private residences and maintain their 18th century appearance. Some windows are from the 19th century. (Number 1 is open to the public and is operated by the Bath Preservation Trust.)
Address: 1 Royal Crescent, Bath BA1 2LR, England

Museum of Costume and Assembly Rooms

The elegant Assembly Rooms (built 1769-71, restored 1991) where visitors would gather for the evening's entertainment, are by John Wood the Younger. Today they house a delightful collection of costumes.
Special displays include period settings, jewelry and clothes of the Royalty. These are the very same Assembly Rooms populated by the characters in Jane Austin's novels.
The founder of this collection was Doris Langley Moore, one of the foremost costume collectors of the 20th century.
Address: Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QH, England

Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge in Bath.
The charming Pulteney Bridge spanning the River Avon was built by Robert Adam for Sir William Pulteney in about 1770, prior to Pulteney's development of the east bank. The bridge, with three arches and lined on either side with little shops, opens onto the dignified rows of neo-Classical houses in Great Pulteney Street.
The bridge's historical significance is that it led to further development across the river.

Sally Lunn's

This medieval house, the oldest in Bath, is now a museum and tea room, serving delicious "Sally Lunn's buns" made from ancient recipes. An old fashioned kitchen can be seen in the basement.
Address: 4 North Parade Passage, Bath BA1 1NX, England

Naïve Art Museum

The Museum of English Naïve Art opened in this 19th century schoolhouse in 1987. On display are primitive English paintings from between 1750 and 1900.

National Centre of Photography

The Royal Photographic Society photographic museum possesses a comprehensive collection on the history of photography. The Center also regularly mounts special exhibitions of photographic art.
The museum is housed in an 18th century chapel in the heart of Bath's main shopping area.

Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum's fine collection originally belonged to Sir Thomas Holburne, who died in 1874. It includes paintings by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Stubbs, miniatures, 18th century silver, Wedgewood porcelain, Renaissance bronzes and medallions and early period furniture.
Address: Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB, England

Herschel House

Now a museum, it was in this house that the musician and astronomer William Herschel lived. His discovery of the planet Uranus was made from the garden in 1781.
The music room contains some of Herschel's original pieces of music and instruments. The basement has been restored as a mirror/telescope making workshop. The upper floor offers a telescope display including a model of Herschel's most famous telescope. The museum is also the home of the William Herschel Society.
Address: 19 New King Street, Bath BA1 2BL, England

Bath International Festival of Music and Arts

The Bath International Festival of Music and Arts is an annual three-week festival that runs from late May to early June and is considered to be one of the most diversified festivals in Europe.
The events featured include operas, chamber, orchestral and choral concerts, Jazz performances, art exhibitions, fringe events, lectures and discussions.
The repertoire is equally varied, featuring some of the earliest-known pieces of classical music to contemporary and modern works.
There are usually five events held every day, which means that a number of venues are used, including the Assembly Rooms, the Guildhall, Christ Church, Wells Cathedral, the Pulp Room, the Theatre Royal, and many others.
Address: Linley House, 1 Pierrepoint Place, Bath BA1 1JY, England

American Museum

The American Museum in Bath has 18 rooms that provide an authentic recreation of American lifestyles from Colonial times to the mid-19th centuries.
The manor was designed in 1820 by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville. The grounds feature an American Arboretum, ornamental stone work and formal gardens. There is an exhibition hall with a map collection and library. The highlight of the Textile Room are the American quilts that are rotated throughout the year.
Address: Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD, England

Museum of East Asian Art

The collection at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath spans 5,000 years of Oriental Art. You will find pieces from: China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea,Thailand, Tibet and Indo-China.
The Museum is housed in a restored Georgian house and has been open since 1993.
Address: 12 Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QL, England

Victoria Art Gallery & Guildhall

The Victoria Art Gallery and Guildhall is Bath's city art gallery. Collections include works by Gainsborough, Turner and Sickert. In addition there are exhibitions of pottery, porcelain, glass, watches and Royal portraits (in the adjacent Guildhall).
Address: High Street, Bath BA1 2QH, England

Georgian Garden

The Georgian Garden in Bath has been restored to a plan typical of the 1760s and includes specimens popular during that era.

Sir Bevil Grenville's Monument

Sir Bevil Grenville's Monument is a monument in honor of a Royalist commander at the Battle of Lansdown.

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow is a neolithic burial mound about 100 feet long featuring multiple axial chambers where human remains once lay.

Surroundings

Camden Crescent

One of two fine 18th century residential streets found on the outskirts of Bath, Camden Crescent was built by John Eveleigh between 1786 and 1792, remaining uncompleted because of structural problems.

Landsdown Crescent

One of two fine 18th century residential streets found on the outskirts of Bath, the Baroque sweep of John Palmer's Landsdown Crescent (1794), several hundred meters long, represented quite an innovation in urban architecture, twisting in serpentine conformity to the contours of the site.

Claverton Manor

Claverton Manor (2.5mi/4km southeast of Bath), built by Sir Jeffry Wyatville in 1820, now houses an American Museum with evocative period reconstructions of interiors from American homes (17th-19th century). There are special sections on the American West and the American Indians.
Galleries also include pewter, glass, textiles (over 50 quilts), maps and folk art.
Address: Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD, England

Prior Park

Ornate bridge in Prior Park in Bath.
Prior Park (2mi/3km southeast of Bath) was built between 1735 and 1750 for Ralph Allen, to plans by John Wood. It is a fine example of a Palladian mansion, with a magnificent colonnaded portico. There is also a lovely Palladian bridge in the landscaped grounds.
Address: Ralph Allen Drive, Bath BA2 5AH, England

Dyrham Park

Dyrham Park (8mi/13km north of Bath) is a 17th C mansion set in more than 100ha/250ac of parkland and gardens, with delightful views. The interior contains fine furniture, paintings etc.
The mansion is located within an ancient deer park with formal gardens, woodland, and lakes to explore.
Address: Dyrham, Chippenham SN14 8ER, England

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