Canterbury Tale

Canterbury Cathedral: West Front, Nave and Cen...

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Most visitors to the UK normally head straight to London and spend a few days there before perhaps fitting in a couple of other major cities such as Manchester, Liverpool or Edinburgh. Whilst all of these cities could keep you entertained for years, there are numerous other beautiful cities dotted around England that are so packed with beauty and history that you would be crazy to miss them. One such place is the stunning city of Canterbury, and if you get the chance, you should make sure you get to see Canterbury at least once in your life, if only because of the fabulous history contained within its walls.

This is a city after all that has been around for thousands of years; first as Durovernum when it was under Roman occupation and then as Cantwarabyrig when it was ruled by the Saxons. It is, despite its small size for a city, one of the UK’s finest and most beautiful cities and thanks to its history, one of the highlights of any tour of the UK. Consequently in summer it can get extremely busy as people from all over the world flock to its famous cathedral and ancient streets. The best way to see the city is on foot – set a day aside to just stroll around the old cobbled streets and mooch through the hundreds of eclectic shops, cafes and bars. But most of all, prepare yourself for a feast of history where you will be able to see many of the sites you read about when you were growing up.

The highlight of course is the site of the martyrdom (and ghoulish bloody murder) of Thomas Beckett where you can stand (in exactly the same spot) in Canterbury Cathedral, the home of the Anglican Church. Canterbury Cathedral itself is one of the world’s great cathedrals, thanks to the combination of the stunning early gothic architecture and the quiet meditative calm inside its walls, as well as the hundreds of years of English history that echo through the building. Indeed there is so much history contained inside the Cathedral that it is worth taking the excellent tour to hear it recounted by passionate tour guides. If you get a chance, visit the cathedral when the choir are performing; the combination of their beautiful voices and the cathedral itself will stay with you for life. The combination of history and beauty is so complete that Canterbury has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is not just the cathedral that charms visitors however. The rest of the city is filled with echoes of English history. From St Martins Church to the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey, which was destroyed during the Dissolution to the Roman Museum and the West Gate Museum, there are enough museums and historic sites to keep you fascinated and entertained for days. But once your feet run out of energy there are all kinds of fantastic old hotels (and a few of the modern chains too) dotted around the city. If you search about on Google before you go you should be able to find some fantastic deals (search for low cost holidays voucher codes or something similar to see all the current promotions.) Once you’ve had your fill of history and shopping dump your stuff at the hotel at the end of the day, have a rest and then head out to one of the hundreds of beautiful fine dining restaurants that spill out onto the cobbled streets.

And the next day? If you’ve got more energy, head out into Kent, known as the ‘garden of England and explore the endless rows of ancient orchards and lush farmlands, the new vineyards and the old seaside resorts.

Guest author Alex is a travel writer and blogger based in the UK. He likes to write about luxury travel to exotic places but normally ends up writing about rainy days and cheap holidays in Wales.

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