Dear Rabbi Simon,
I am planning a visit next week to Bath, Somerset, the UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its Roman-era baths. But when a friend sent me photos, describing “one of the finest religious spas of the ancient world,” I began to wonder if one is actually allowed to visit this particular historical attraction, considering that the religion of ancient Rome would surely have been a form of paganism, ie idolatry.
I have heard of spas described as “sinfully indulgent”, but I don’t want to sin just by walking through the door.
Thank you for your interesting and practical question. Although the “spa” (Roman bath) may well have had religious connotations and possibly uses (see Mishnah A.Z. 3:4), since the bathhouse we are considering has been decommissioned long ago, and now serves primarily as a tourist attraction, it is permitted to enter. Enjoy your holiday!
Rabbi Rashi Simon