- a thematic guide to Britain
discovery of Britain, the country and its life
in Britain - monuments, areas and other attractions
Britain is a rich
Rich in monuments,
rich in sights, rich in culture. For nearly a thousand years, since
England was conquered in 1066 by William the Conqueror, duke of
Normandy, the British Isles have developed largely untouched by the
wars that caused so much havoc on the European continent. And
even if Britain's historic heritage has been on occasions damaged by
internal conflicts and even civil war, the country retains to this day
an amazing concentration of historic monuments, ancient cities and
castles - not to mention its rural heritage, its largely protected
coastline, its old pubs and inns, its museums or other attractions.
Here is a small selection of the most important and most popular
tourist sites and attractions in Britain.
Best historic cities to visit.
the Industrial Revolution transformed the country from the 18th century
onwards, it largely missed out on the most important cities of the
time, to focus around new industrial cities that have since become the
country's major cities. Thus,
many of the most important historic cities in Britain remained largely
untouched by the upheavals of the Industrial age, and remained largely
as they were, with their historic centres, old houses ,
medieval cathedrals and other monuments . Here
are some cities worth visiting.
is the most visited tourist city in the UK, The
university cities of Oxford
with their unparalleled
concentration of historic monuments, university buildings from the
Middle Ages built for kings, princes and other patrons.
city of Chester
south of Liverpool, an architectural gem, a
concentration of half-timbered buildings, still following the grid plan
of the ancient Roman castrum .
Archbishopric cities of Canterbury
with their magnificent
medieval cathedrals, which are among the most beautiful in Europe.
regional cities such as Exeter,
Gloucester, Worcester, Salisbury,
Lincoln, Ely, Norwich, Wells
, also with
arranged around a medieval cathedral. See Best English cathedrals
spa towns of the 18th century , especially Bath
Click for visitor
information for the
biggest cities in England
Some old villages and small
towns which are remarkably well preserved.
examples: Lacock and Castle Combe ( Wiltshire ) Milton Abbas (Dorset) ,
, Haworth (West Yorkshire )
Areas of countryside,
with their villages
London : See Country
walks near London
Kent - the " Garden of England " in Southeast England
Southwest - ancient "Wessex"
including Dorset ,
Devon and Cornwall, with their charming thatched cottages and old
Cotswolds - Gloucestershire
- villages in
Norfolk - See the East of England
central England - The
highlands of north-central England, the Peak District, the Pennines and
the Yorkshire Moors ( Yorkshire Dales )
Lake District , in the northwest of England, an area of
and lakes, popular with poets, artists, hikers and mountaineers.
of Wales, including central Wales and
Snowdonia - rugged hill country and some real mountains.
Scottish Highlands and Islands - the most
sparsely populated and wild part of the British Isles. See ► Scotland
Stately homes :
magnificent medieval castles;
Here are just some
of the best. Leeds Castle ( Kent ) Arundel and Bodiam
(Sussex) , Windsor ( near London) , Berkeley (
Gloucestershire) Alnwick ,
Bamburgh or Durham (Northeast England), Caernarvon, Conway, Harlech and
Carmarthen (in Wales), Edinburgh and Stirling (in Scotland)
Among the best are Hever
Castle (Kent) , Sudeley Castle (Gloucestershire )
or Hampton Court ( London area) .
or stately homes built or largely rebuilt during the neoclassical
period (17th - 18th centuries ), the most famous of which include
Wilton and Longleat (Wiltshire ) , Blenheim Palace (birthplace of
Winston Churchill, Oxfordshire ) , Harewood House and Castle Howard
(Yorkshire ) or Woburn Abbey (north of London ) .
Other major sites and monuments , such as:
- (see Prehistoric Britain
very famous prehistoric monument ( Wiltshire )
major industrial heritage sites (see
Open air museums
) , such as the UNESCO world heritage
sites at Ironbridge Gorge (Shropshire), the birthplace of the
Industrial Revolution, or the earliest factories, located in the
Derwent Valley (Derbyshire) .
► The English coast
- protected areas
Nearly 10% (over 800 km) of
the coast of England belongs to an association, the National Trust,
founded in 1895. This was the world's first Association set up with the
object of conserving heritage sites and the coastline. In
more than 110 years of existence, it has acquired, through donations or
purchases, a good percentage of the most spectacular , environmentally
sensitive and typical stretches of the English coastline, putting it
out of reach of property developers and speculators. Thus, long
stretches of the English coast are protected from development, and open
to the public for leisure or hiking.
The most popular resorts are
on the south coast - from Folkestone to Penzance. The north coast of
Cornwall is famous for its great Atlantic beaches.
details on England's coasts
and on the coasts of south west England
► The coasts of Scotland and Wales.
Large parts of these are also
protected. Wales and Scotland having a much lower population density
than England, their coast are less frequented than those closer to the
urban areas of England. Long stretches of coastline in
Scotland are largely deserted.
► Other attractions
and miscellaneous sites
has a good number of theme parks. The most popular of these are Alton
Beach, Thorpe Park
Chessington World of Adventure
and a score of others.
Living museums and heritage sites
museums, see Open air museums
has over a hundred heritage railways, most of them running steam
trains (see steam
) . The best known of these are the
Bluebell Line (Sussex),
The Severn Valley
the Worth Valley line
the West Somerset
line (near Taunton), the
Great Central in Leicestershire (the only double-track preserved
railway) and more
than 80 others ! The
English are great lovers
of steam trains.
parks , heaths and forests.
of these are in the north or far west of England. The most
recent area to be classified as a National Park is the New Forest, in
Hampshire (near Southampton).
with extras; numerous stately homes put on historic
displays and special events during the summer maonts; these include
falconry, historic cars, jopusting, historic reenactments, and