Roman architecture has managed to maintain its splendor, beauty, and ingenuity two thousand years after it was first presented to the world. To date, the architectural superiority of the Romans stands out as one of the most significant developments in the history of the world.
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Architecture has since developed in leaps and bounds but the influence of Roman architecture can still be felt in everyday life. It is also correct to assume that the marvelous innovations that the Romans took to their colonies within the Roman Empire had tremendous influences on the people of the time. Historians have argued that the architectural superiority of the Romans allowed them to conquer others with ease (Grant 1).
Wherever Roman colonies were established, the citizens of that region were sure to benefit from roads, bridges, baths, forums, and fresh water supply. Roman public baths were one of the most ingenious architectural additions in Roman colonies. The bathhouses were luxurious places where Roman legionaries and other officials could relax and unwind.
The bathhouses were mostly supplied with abundant hot water to make them pleasurable. This paper explores the influence of Roman architecture whilst focusing on the public baths of Bath, England.
An article by John Macdonald describes the features of the City of Bath in southwest England. The City of Bath was founded about two thousand years ago when the Romans conquered a small village by the banks of River Avon. According to Macdonald’s article, the Romans immediately liked Bath and they settled there for the next four hundred years.
It is argued that Bath’s main attraction was the fact that the city is surrounded by seven hills just like Rome. In addition, the city had a natural hot water spring. The hot water spring in Bath provided the Romans with a chance to build a luxury/religious shrine for one of their goddesses.
The finished shrine contained “hot swimming baths, cold plunges, saunas, and Turkish baths. Since Bath was first invaded and transformed by the Romans, it has become a major tourist attraction in England. The city has had to endure several invasions after the Romans left but the influence of the Roman Empire is clearly visible. Today, Bath is a major cultural, culinary, visual, and historic city in England.
Bath is a diverse city that features several modern amenities that appeal to the modern tourist. Nevertheless, the Roman influence on the city of Bath is quite evident. Macdonald’s article describes all the features of the city, which is a major tourist attraction in England (Macdonald 4). By using Macdonald’s article, it is possible to outline the influence that Roman architecture has on modern cities.
The first evident Roman influence in the City of Bath is the preserved Roman remains. The Temple of Minerva is a major tourist attraction in Bath. In addition, the bathhouses that surrounded the temple are still the main visual attraction in Bath. Most of the Roman architecture has been able to withstand the test of time and the harshness of elements. The “Minerva Temple was built around 2000 years ago and it has remained intact since that time” (UNESCO 1).
On the other hand, the bathhouses that were built by Roman legionaries have remained visible for the last 2000 years. For instance, Macdonald notes that “the last public bath was closed in 1978 due to a health scare” (Macdonald 3). Nevertheless, there have been plans to reopen some of the baths for public use. The baths that are in use today were built in the eighteenth century.
The ancient Roman baths are still in display and they remain a major attraction for the various tourists who frequent Bath. Prior, to the Roman invasion of Bath, the idea of public baths was foreign in the region. However, the idea of Baths that use the hot water springs has survived for the last two thousand years.
It is important to note that the invaders who came to England after the Romans found the architecture of public baths to be noble and they consequently preserved the idea. For a long period after the fall of the Roman Empire, the public baths were transformed into wool producing centers.
It was the ambitious King George who sought to rebuild the public baths and recapture their lost glory (UNESCO 1). Both the Roman and the Georgian periods indicate a significant interest in the institution of public baths in historical England. Reopening the public baths is homage to the Roman architecture.
The general architecture and layout of Bath is reflective of early Roman influences. Bath’s buildings feature the uniform arrangements that were characteristic of Roman architecture. In addition, there is a uniform blend of the city and its underlying landscape. The Romans were first attracted to the city due to its picturesque landscape. The city is a valley that is surrounded by beautiful hills. The roman builders sought to incorporate the elements of the beautiful landscapes into their buildings.
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Today, the city has turned away from the uniformed building patterns of the Romans. However, the city has managed to maintain the perfect blend of buildings and landscapes. For instance, Macdonald notes that Bath “is a city of gardens, flowers, and trees” (Macdonald 1).
It is also important to note that the Europeans have managed to maintain a version of cities that blend with the landscape throughout most of their territory. Although the style of landscaped cities was perfected in the Georgian period, it can be traced back to the Roman era. The only factor that has changed is that the Romans used pure landscapes while modern styles use trees and gardens.
The picturesque sites that prompted the Romans to remain in Bath for over four hundred years are the core attraction for the more than one million tourists who frequent the city annually. The ancient Roman baths are the second most visited for-pay sites in Britain. A group of Monks in the 12th century had a similar idea when they refurbished the bath ruins and transformed them into curing sites.
However, the Monks’ ideas fizzled out in just a short time. Other interests in the public baths came from Prince Bladud who claimed to have been healed by the hot water springs at Bath. In the middle ages, it was the visits of Queen Ann between 1702 and 1703 that restored the waning popularity of Bath as a tourist attraction.
The core architecture of Bath is the Roman-built public baths. The interest in Roman instituted public baths has remained intact throughout history. Currently, millions of tourists flock the City of Bath to catch a glimpse of the Roman architectural ingenuity.
Grant, Michael. The World of Rome. MCGill, 28 Oct. 2007.
Macdonald, John. Bath: A Roman Legacy. Proquest, 2014.
UNESCO. City of Bath. UNESCO, 2009.