Newest Review: ... want to go on one rather than walk around yourself and listen. The Roman Baths are wheelchair accessible, but I did not use the facilities... more
Roman Baths Museum (Bath)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Roman Baths Museum (Bath)
Advantages: Informative and interesting.
Disadvantages: Quite expensive
The Roman Baths as you see them today aren't really Roman - they were built in Victorian times, but the Romans did bathe here some 2000 years ago. I visited earlier this year and admission to the Baths was £11.50 for adults (concessions available) and there is a Saver Ticket that is £15 which includes admission to the Fashion Museum and Assembly Rooms (usually £7). This is what we did. The chap on the admissions desk was very helpful and advised us that we may not have time to do both that day (which we hadn't planned anyway) and directed us to the audio guides (which were free) and we then proceeded into the museum.
There were several audio tours available: as well as in several languages, there is a conventional one as well as special children's ones and one narrated by Bill Bryson. You just push the corresponding number on the keypad on your handset, although the numbers seem rather random and out of sequence. I listened in part to the 'offical' commentary which was very informative and in part to Bryson's which was more observational.
The visible parts of the Baths seem only small, but there is a lot more including a museum under ground. You first walk out onto the terrace where you look down onto the main baths themselves. Here there are a number of statues of Roman generals (carved around 1894) and you can get a good view of the Abbey. As you go round you also see a the Sacred Spring, the original source of the water. You then go down to the museum and Roman items that have been excavated including coins and 'curses' that people have asked the Goddess Minerva (to whom the Baths were dedicated) to look after. The museum has been upgraded in recent years, here you will see a model of how the baths would have been in Roman times, as well as CGI on a screen. Underground you also see the Spring drain where the overflow from the Sacred Spring flows out of a Roman drain, this part smells a bit sulphuric.
The museum takes you back out to the baths at the lower level, here there are number of people in Roman dress interacting with the public, and having their photo taken. I didn't really see the point of this myself, but am sure it will appeal to younger visitors. Certainly the international tourists liked them also. Through a side door you will see the excavated remains of the changing rooms and sauna. On the other side would have been heated rooms and a plunge pool which now has become a wishing well. As you leave the site you can carry onto the Pump Rooms (upmarket and expensive tea rooms) where treated hot spa water is available to drink. Alternatively you can exit into the gift shop which has a number of Bath and Roman-centric gifts.
There are toilets as you go in and generally the site is accessible for wheelchair users due to a number of special lifts and ramps. At bath level the paving stones are uneven and it is a good idea to watch your footing, I saw a few small children take a tumble around here onto the stone slabs. Plus, the water here is untreated and not suitable for drinking, so if you are going with youngsters it is worth holding tight to them. As I mentioned previously there is an audio tour designed for children but I am not sure as to what age range this would cover, I would guess those under six would not get so much out of it. Child carriers are available for free as prams and pushchairs are not allowed. There is a family ticket covering two adults and four children for £33.
If you are in Bath then this really is one of the must-see attractions, it is the reason why the town has its name after all! It is an expensive attraction however, and I think we were in there just under an hour (we didn't go into the Pump Room). The baths are open everyday (except 25th/26th December) with extended opening hours during July and August.
Summary: Must see attraction in Bath
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