Bath: Healing Waters Full of Algae + Lead

Upon arrival, I actually thought Bath was stuffy. Beautiful, but on purpose, like the city was trying too hard. There was such a cohesive look. I kept getting disoriented because all the buildings were this yellow limestone (turns out it’s actually called Bath stone because it’s local); I couldn’t tell one landmark from another.

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Turns out this beauty actually is on purpose, thanks to a few architects in the 18th and 19th centuries.

[The City of Bath is]…a demonstration par excellence of the integration of architecture, urban design and landscape setting, and the deliberate creation of a beautiful city…Bath’s quality of architecture and urban design, its visual homogeneity and its beauty is largely testament to the skill and creativity of the architects and visionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries who applied and developed Palladianism in response to the specific opportunities offered by the spa town and its physical environment and natural resources (in particular the hot springs and the local Bath Oolitic limestone). (Unesco)

Side note: For normal people:

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Today, Bath’s status as a World Heritage Site also keeps its look consistent and postcard-worthy. Seriously, every photo I took was pretty good. Bath is photogenic AF.

Once I started wandering, I found so many little pockets of personality. Bath’s brand definitely started to grow on me.

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Bath was founded by the Romans who used the natural hot springs for healing and rituals. Bath’s reputation as a spa town helped it grow and the water from the spring was said to have healing properties. In fact, a hospital in town used to be called the Royal Mineral Water Hospital. They still operate from the same building, so you can see the old name on the building’s original facade.

Unsurprisingly, the ruins of the Roman Baths are the main attraction in Bath, so in I went.

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Make sure you get the audio guide or you’ll miss a lot of little fun details, like the water is that pretty/poisonous green because of sunlight-loving algae (a problem that the Romans didn’t have because the Baths used to have a huge domed roof).

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Image source

Or that the statues on the upper level were added in the 1890s in an effort to make the site look more legit before a grand opening. Or that Romans used to write little petty and vindictive notes on lead or pewter asking the gods to curse people and throw them into the water like we throw pennies into the Trevi fountain.

By the exit of the museum, there’s a place where you can drink the healing mineral water. It was alright. Wish it cured sarcasm.

-D.A.

 

 

 

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