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The United Kingdom: Keys to unlocking the kingdom
May 12, 2017, 8:18 pm
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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.

Edinburgh:

This city is steeped in history, beginning with the Old and New Towns, which have more than 4,500 historic buildings and sites between them. Old Town is home to Edinburgh’s most famous street, the Royal Mile that connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. New Town on the other hand is not really new, since it dates back to the 18th century and is best known for its neoclassical architecture.

Cambridge:

A charming English city located on the River Cam just north of London, Cambridge is home to one of the world’s top universities, the University of Cambridge. It also has all of the cultural and entertainment options you might expect from a college town. The King’s College Chapel, situated along the River Cam, is considered a fine example of perpendicular Gothic architecture and is one of the most visited sights in the city.

Westminster Abbey:

A splendid mixture of architectural styles, Westminster Abbey is considered the finest example of Early English Gothic (1190–1300). It is not merely a beautiful place of worship – the Abbey also serves up the country's history cold on slabs of stone. For centuries the country's greatest have been interred here, including 17 monarchs from Henry III (died 1272) to George II (1760). Never a cathedral (the seat of a bishop), Westminster Abbey is what is called a 'royal peculiar', administered by the Crown.

Edinburgh Castle:

This Castle has dominated the skyline for centuries and is part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. The Castle’s powerful stone walls have withstood many sieges and its sumptuous apartments were an important residence of Scottish Kings and Queens. Today, countless treasures are protected by the Castle walls. Marvel at the nation’s Crown Jewels, smell the gunpowder after the One o’Clock Gun fires, hear the Castle’s great story on a guided tour and taste Scottish produce in the cafés – all in this magnificent fortress. With more than a million visitors a year, from across the globe, the Castle offers a fabulous day out – an experience not to be missed.

York Minster:

The remarkable York Minster is the largest medieval cathedral in all of Northern Europe, and one of the world's most beautiful Gothic buildings. Seat of the archbishop of York, primate of England, it is second in importance only to Canterbury, seat of the primate of all England – the separate titles were created to settle a debate over the true centre of the English church. If this is the only cathedral you visit in England, you will still walk away satisfied.

Scottish Highlands:

The Scottish Highlands is the rugged northern and northwestern portion of Scotland. This is the Scotland conjured up by visions of tartan, kilts, lochs and Braveheart. The area is sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges dominating the region, and includes the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis. Among its most popular attractions is Eilean Donan Castle, a real picture postcard castle and Loch Ness, Scotland’s most famous lakes.

Lake District:

Located in North West England in the county of Cumbria, the Lake District is the second largest National Park in the UK. The main attractions are the lakes, mountains and hills carved by glacial erosion and providing dramatic and inspiring scenery. It is England’s premier destination for hiking and climbing.

Snowdonia:

One of the most famous national parks in the UK, Snowdonia is best known for its stunning 360-degree views of the mountains, valleys and coast below. On a clear day, visitors can even see Ireland. Located along the coast of Wales, Snowdonia is home to Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and England, and the largest lake in Wales.

Stonehenge:

One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones in South West England. It is also home to some of the most important Neolithic and Bronze Age finds and structures in the UK, and contains some 200 scheduled monuments. From about 2500BC, Neolithic and Bronze Age man started to bring Bluestones and Sarsen stones from Wales and the Marlborough Downs. It was not until 1600BC that Stonehenge came to be completed.

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