When walking through the steamy ancient bath and peering into the clear hot water bubbling up from deep in the earth, you can feel why the ancients would have found this a spiritual place of healing and why even the busy Victorians would have wanted to spend time relaxing in the warm soothing atmosphere.
Legend also says that King Bladud ruled for twenty years from 863 BC (or perhaps 500 BC), during which he built the city of Kaerbadum or Caervaddon (Bath), a created the hot springs by the use of magic. He dedicated the city of Bath to the goddess Athena (Greek) or Minerva (Roman) who at that time, people began to associate with the local goddess Sulis and in honor of her lit eternal fires.
He found employment as a swineherd about two miles from what would be the site of Bath, and noticed that his pigs would go into mud-hole in cold weather and return covered in black mud. He found that the mud was warm, and they enjoyed the heat. He also noticed that the pigs who visited these mud holes did not suffer from skin diseases as others did. Upon trying the mud bath himself found that he was cured of his leprosy. Supposedly, this was the founding of the baths.
The name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town's Roman name of Aquae Sulis “the waters of Sulis". The temple was constructed in 60-70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.
The spring is now housed in 18th-century buildings. During this time, visitors drank the waters in the Grand Pump Room (designed and redesigned from 1789-1799) and the neo-classical Salon was built as a place for relaxing while taking a break from the baths, eventually the bath complex was used both for taking the waters and for social functions. During Victorian times, later expansion of the above ground bath complex was continued in the neo-classical tradition and the impressive façade and entrance where you enter the bath was built in 1897. These are all part of the beautiful complex you see today.
Above photo credit: cardcow.com via wikimedia.com