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The United Kingdom: Diverse scenery and rich cultural heritage
September 3, 2016, 11:40 am
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Consisting of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom (UK) - also often referred to as Great Britain, or simply GB - has long been one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations. The country's appeal has much to do with its diverse scenery and rich cultural heritage, the latter encompassing everything from beautifully preserved country estates and castles to many world-class art galleries and museums.

London:

While it is not impossible to plan a trip to the UK without visiting London, it is certainly not to be advised, as the nation's sprawling capital boasts plenty of attractions to keep you busy. If history is your thing, be sure to visit the Tower of London. Beside the spectacular Tower Bridge on the banks of the Thames, this former palace and prison includes highlights such as the iconic 1,000-year-old White Tower, with its displays of armor and weaponry, and the Jewel House, home to the Crown Jewels. Fans of Britain's Royal Family will want to visit Buckingham Palace, London's Royal home since Queen Victoria's reign. The city's Road area is another must, where you will find Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings, as well as Westminster Abbey, scene of many a royal wedding.

Liverpool and Manchester:

Thanks to its international airport, Manchester is often the first stop for visitors to northern England, Scotland, or Wales. Highlights include Castlefield, popular for its well-preserved Victorian houses, canals, and Roman ruins, as well as the many old warehouses now serving as trendy shops, hotels, and restaurants. Other attractions include Manchester Cathedral and the historic Town Hall, as well as a rich cultural scene that includes museums, galleries, and entertainment. Liverpool, just an hour away by rail, offers plenty of cultural excitement, not least because of its association with the Beatles.

Wonderful Windsor:

The historic town of Windsor conveniently located a short train ride west of London, offers plenty of fun things for tourists to do. In addition to its lovely Thames-side setting and medieval half-timbered buildings on quaint, old cobblestone laneways, it is also home to spectacular Windsor Castle, the most famous of the UK's royal castles. This grand old castle has served as the summer residence of British royalty for a millennium and is the world's largest inhabited castle. Highlights include the splendid State Apartments containing the Queen's Gallery and dining hall, each with magnificently painted ceilings and woodcarvings, and St. George's Chapel, famous as the home of the Knights and Ladies of the ancient Order of the Garter.

Canterbury:

This city has been a draw for pilgrims for more than 1,500 years. The  most famous attraction being Canterbury Cathedral, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning cathedral offers plenty to see, from the intricately carved masonry of its exterior to its magnificent interior, a highlight of which is the beautiful choir with its statues of six English kings. Also of note are the exquisite Miracle Windows, dating from the 12th century and depicting scenes from the life of murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket. Afterwards, be sure to spend time wandering the pedestrianized area of Old City Canterbury with its many preserved historic timber-framed buildings, particularly along Mercery Lane.

Cardiff:

Despite being much smaller than both Scotland and England, Wales is home to some of the UK's best attractions, from the breathtaking scenery of its national parks to its many historic castles. One of the best tourist spots is the country's capital, Cardiff. Most travelers begin their visit at Cardiff Castle. In the middle of the city and built on the ruins of a Roman fort, parts of the current structure date back to 1090. Also, spend some time wandering the city's many old Victorian shopping arcades, the best of which can be found around The Hayes, as well as Cardiff Bay, one of the UK's largest redevelopment projects.

Loch Ness:

Despite the fact that the legends of mythical monsters have largely been debunked, spectacular Loch Ness remains an extremely popular tourist attraction for travelers heading to Scotland. Here, you can see some of the UK's most beautiful scenery. Highlights include the ruins of Urquhart Castle, overlooking the loch, one of Scotland's largest fortifications. For those wanting to learn about the area's many legends, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition recounts its history.

Ancient Stonehenge and Medieval Salisbury:

One of the planet's oldest World Heritage Sites, Stonehenge has been a place of pilgrimage for more than 4,500 years. It was believed to have been erected as a place of worship, and these days, the crowds consist of tourists drawn by the scale of this magnificent monument to mankind's ingenuity.

Be sure to spend time exploring the nearby medieval city of Salisbury, just 16 kilometers south of Stonehenge. You will be rewarded by a chance to visit one of the country's most famous cathedrals, dating back to 1220 and home to an original Magna Carta.

The Cotswolds and the Lake District:

Covering almost 1,287 square kilometers of pristine countryside, the beautiful Cotswolds is undoubtedly one of the most photographed corners of the UK. Located an easy day trip west of London and close to the popular tourist attractions of Bath and Bristol, the Cotswolds includes some of the best parts of the counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire.

To the north of the Cotswolds and covering an area of 1,448 square kilometers is more of England's most beautiful scenery: the Lake District National Park. Encompassing 12 of the country's largest lakes this region is also great to explore on foot, thanks to its more than 3,218 kilometers of trails. Highlights include visiting Scafell Pike, at 978 meters the highest mountain in England, as well as exploring picturesque towns, including Grasmere.

The University Towns of Cambridge and Oxford:

The UK has long been a center of learning, with two of its most famous university towns also ranking highly as tourist destinations. An easy commute north of London - and just 128 kilometers apart - Cambridge and Oxford have for centuries been rivals for the title of the country's top academic establishments. Despite this, each location offers plenty of attractions. Highlights of a visit to Cambridge include the chance to wander the UK's largest collection of preserved historic buildings, many of them located within an easy walk of Cambridge University's 31 colleges. Oxford University's 38 colleges are equally attractive, each set around a quadrangle and several inner courtyards along with chapels, dining-halls, libraries, and student accommodations.

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Bernard Joseph  Posted on : September 05, 2016 7:06 am
Great Britain
Bindu Joseph  Posted on : September 05, 2016 7:05 am
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