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Canterbury

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Overview & Brief History

Canterbury, located in the county of Kent, is a historic cathedral city renowned for its rich cultural heritage, medieval architecture, and literary connections. As one of the oldest and most important cities in England, Canterbury offers visitors a fascinating blend of ancient history, vibrant cultural attractions, and picturesque surroundings. From its iconic Canterbury Cathedral to its charming cobbled streets and riverside gardens, the city invites exploration and discovery at every turn.

A Brief History:

Canterbury has a history that spans over two millennia, with evidence of human habitation dating back to prehistoric times. However, it was during the Roman period that Canterbury first gained prominence as the regional capital of the Celtic tribe known as the Cantiaci. The Romans built a walled settlement called Durovernum Cantiacorum, which served as an important administrative and commercial center in Roman Britain.

In the 6th century, Canterbury became the center of Christianity in England with the arrival of St. Augustine, who was sent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. Augustine established his cathedral and episcopal see in Canterbury, laying the foundation for Canterbury’s future as a religious center.

Canterbury’s fortunes continued to rise during the medieval period, with the construction of Canterbury Cathedral beginning in the 11th century. The cathedral became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe following the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. Becket’s murder in the cathedral led to his canonization as a saint and the subsequent pilgrimage of thousands of pilgrims to his shrine.

Throughout the medieval era, Canterbury prospered as a center of religion, education, and commerce, with the cathedral and its associated monastic institutions playing a central role in the city’s cultural and economic life. Canterbury’s status as a pilgrimage destination also attracted artists, writers, and scholars, including Geoffrey Chaucer, whose famous work “The Canterbury Tales” immortalized the city in literature.

In the centuries that followed, Canterbury continued to evolve and grow, with its historic center preserved and enhanced through ongoing conservation efforts. Today, Canterbury remains a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage, attracting visitors from around the world to explore its historic landmarks, charming streets, and scenic surroundings.

Things to See & Do

Canterbury Cathedral

Explore the iconic Canterbury Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest and most important cathedrals in England. Admire its stunning Gothic architecture, historic stained glass windows, and the shrine of St. Thomas Becket.

River Tour

Take a leisurely boat tour along the River Stour and admire the city’s historic landmarks from a unique perspective.

St. Augustine’s Abbey

Visit the ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the burial place of the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Explore the remains of this medieval monastery and learn about its significance in English history.

Herne Bay

Explore the charming seaside town of Herne Bay, located just a short drive from Canterbury. Discover its sandy beaches, Victorian pier, and colorful beach huts, and enjoy a variety of seaside activities, including swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing.

Local Dining

Cozy Pub Fare

Immerse yourself in Canterbury’s rich history with a meal at a traditional pub. The Parrot offers hearty classics like fish and chips and steak pie alongside a wide selection of local ales. For a unique pub experience, head to The Turk’s Head, a 16th-century coaching inn with a charming atmosphere and a menu featuring local Kentish produce.

The Kentish Coast on Your Plate

Sample the freshest seafood at Whitstable Fish Company, a relaxed restaurant with a focus on sustainable catches from the nearby Kentish coast.

Insider Tips

The cathedral can get crowded, especially during peak season. Aim for early mornings or late afternoons for a more peaceful experience.

Several museums offer free entry, like The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge (except for special exhibits) and the Canterbury Roman Museum, perfect for budget-conscious travelers.

Follow the Canterbury Tales Trail, a self-guided walking tour that takes you past historical landmarks mentioned in Chaucer’s famous work.

Virtual Tours

Canterbury Historic City Walk

Canterbury River Tour

Canterbury Cathedral

Herne Bay Walking Tour

Crab and Winkle Way

St. Augustine’s Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral

DISCOVER

Interactive Maps

Wander around the streets of Canterbury

Experience Canterbury Cathedral

Enjoy the views from Herne Bay Pier

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