Canterbury a City of History, Culture and Inspiration
Virginia Woolfe (1904)
“There is no lovelier place in the world than Canterbury”
The City of Canterbury, in the heart of Kent, the garden of England, has been attracting visitors and pilgims with its cobbled streets and timeless beauty for centuries. Boasting the perfect blend of a cosmopolitan city with nearby coast and countryside, medieval Canterbury offers something to satisfy every interest with visitor attractions welcoming all.
Canterbury is nestled in a valley which formed around the ancient winding River Stour. The City has a history that’s led to historians quoting that ‘The History of Canterbury is indeed the History of England’ The Romans upon invading Britain would have found the city to be of considerable importance, and after renaming the City ‘Durovernum’ it became the centre point for five great roads leading from the coastal towns of Lymne, Dover, Richborough, near Sandwich, Reculver and also the Isle of Thanet, with Watling Street in the City as the starting travel point for the Roman road to Londinium.
The Romans abandoned Britain in the early 5th Century and the Anglo Saxons a century later renamed the city Cantwarabyrig, meaning ‘The city of the men of Kent’ . The Kingdom of Kent was ruled by King Ethelbert from 561AD who was to become the last pagan King of Kent, and whose influence covered much of England, 575AD saw the arrival from Italy of Bertha his future wife and Queen, who also bought her Chaplain, Bishop Luidhard ,to perform their Marriage. Through Queen Bertha, Ethelbert converted to Christianity, being baptised on June 2nd 597, a landmark year as Bertha’s influence also bought St Augustine to Canterbury who begun the Christianizing of Saxon England which has led to Canterbury and it Cathedral becoming the head of the Church of England and the world spiritual head of the Anglican Faith.
Being only a few hours by train from both London and Paris makes Canterbury an ideal choice for a short break, with inviting Canterbury Hotels and B&B’s, and ever since Thomas Becket was sainted in 1173 people have flocked to Canterbury, making it the most popular destination outside of Rome for European pilgrims. Wandering the city’s streets it’s not hard to see why with its collection of world heritage sights including the oldest parish church in England and the ruins of St Augustine’s abbey which both date back to the sixth century, but the jewel in Canterbury’s crown is Canterbury cathedral which dominates the skyline with its stunning architecture, intricate carvings and medieval stained glass.
The city honours its past, relishes the present and looks with hope to the future. Canterbury’s history of scholarship dates back to the 7th century with the formation of the oldest school in the land The Kings School, the city now boasts four universities and all the ingredients of a modern, vibrant cultural centre.
Why not explore the city’s past with its wealth of museums, take a stroll along the medieval city walls, or escape the busy city centre on our ancient waterway by enjoying the award winning Canterbury Historic River Tours, departing from the Kings Bridge by The Old Weavers House, perhaps you would like to step back in time to the fourteenth century, to experience sights, sounds and smells of medieval England at the Canterbury Tales visitor attraction
Prefer to shop till you drop? Then you won’t be disappointed either, the city offers a wealth of retail outlets from big name stores at the Whitefriars Shopping Centre to smaller specialist shops in Canterbury’s winding streets.
After, why not sit back, relax and enjoy lunch in one of the city’s numerous restaurants or Café’s, from fast food to Michelin star dining, Canterbury offers a choice of cuisine tastes to suit every palate from Italian and Arabic to Mexican, Chinese and Indian.
Or maybe you’d just like to stroll around Canterbury’s many gardens and parks and soak up the atmosphere which defines this wonderful City.