Historically part of the county of Somerset, it became part of Avon when that county was created in 1974. Since the abolition of Avon, it has formed the main centre of the Unitary Authority of Bath and North East Somerset.
The first shrine at the site of the springs was built by Celts, and dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romanss identified with Minerva; however, the name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town's Roman name of Aquae Sulis (literally, "the waters of Sulis"). During the Roman occupation of Britain increasingly grand temples and bathing complexes were built, but after the Roman withdrawal these fell into disrepair and were eventually lost due to silting up. They were rediscovered in the 18th century and, as well as being a major archaeological find, they have from that time to the present been one of the city's main attractions, though the water is now considered unsafe for bathing, due to its having passed through the still-functioning lead pipes constructed by the Romans.
Toward the end of the Roman occupation, a Christian shrine was established by the largest spring, and it later grew into a church, but by the 15th century that was dilapidated beyond repair. King Henry VII visited the city in 1497 and decided to found an abbey there, so the Bishop of Bath and Wells took the revenues of the old church to build Bath Abbey.
Bath is approximately 15 miles east of the much larger city of Bristol, to which it is linked by the A4, and is a little way south of the M4 motorway. It possesses a railway station which lies on the main line between Bristol and London.
Bath is the most visited city outside of London for tourists.
Its attractions include:
See also: Don Foster MP