Reasons to visit Canterbury
History, heritage, horticulture, culture, customs, food, fun and festivals.
29th November 2018 — Come and join the cavalcade of visitors who have been coming to Canterbury over the course of 14 centuries!
We have not one, not two, but three UNESCO World Heritage sites to discover, explore and enjoy!
There is so much to see and to do, to visit, and to be delighted by; culture oozes from the very paving stones, the wooden finials in shops, and from the gargoyles and corbels grinning as you pass by!
Canterbury is often called a ‘city for all seasons’ and indeed whatever time of year you visit, you are sure to find something happening –the blissful Choral Evensong at the end of each day accompanied by the bells tolling, the uplifting and inspirational Lent Lectures, Handel’s great Oratorio ‘Messiah’ at Eastertide, ‘pop up’ street theatre, summer art exhibitions, guided City rambles, Medieval Pageants, an International Foods Festival in September, the best Festival of Arts in the South East in October, and Christmas markets at year’s end….no wonder Canterbury is described as “simply inspirational!”
The great attraction for the 3million visitors who come each year - tourists, soul searching pilgrims and the just plain curious, is surely the stunning, sensational, gloriously light-filled magnificent Cathedral of Christ which dominates both city centre and the city skyline.
Its edifice is so interweaved in the history of this Realm that it has taken on the epithet “England in stone”. From the great Crypt concealing ancient Saxon origins, to its sky stretching spires and Bell Harry Tower, it stands as testament to the extraordinary vision and courage of saints, the vanity of Kings, the humility of pilgrims, the warp and woof of spiritual and temporal power for generations.
The Great See of Canterbury is also the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion of churches, and since the Reformation, the Archbishop of Canterbury considered the ‘primus inter pares’, titular Head of the Anglican Communion.
There’s no place like it elsewhere in England! Here you can easily walk about on foot and literally start from Roman times (Julius Caesar’s Roman Legions passed by in 55BC!) and walk through centuries of history. The City has hosted most of the Kings and Queens of England from Norman times to the present day, - the most recent visit here by HM The Queen was in 2015. Cars are restricted to the external circular road and do not come into the city thereby allowing pedestrianisation of all the centre and making it one of the safest places to walk around.
If walking in the footsteps of history is your hobby – then Canterbury is known as the start/end of the Via Francigena, the extraordinary 1,700km walk, first formally recorded in 990AD by Archbishop Sigeric on his way to Rome, followed thereafter by countless pilgrims travelling to/from Rome/Canterbury passing through France, Switzerland and Italy.
The modern visitor today to Canterbury can still occasionally witness in Springtime an ancient ritual - a small group of pilgrims standing quietly to receive a blessing at the ‘0 km stone’ in the Cathedral Precincts before setting off, on foot or horseback, to undertake this special magna via, the longest of all the pilgrim routes linking European Christendom.
For those on a shorter (!) visit to Canterbury, you’ll be pleased to know there are several parks and river walks and tours; the special Cycle and Ramble Walk (The Crab’n’Winkle Way) which leads directly from the city centre to the pebble beach in Whitstable – a real crowd pleaser especially in the summer months during the Oyster Festival, when ice creams and swimming in the sea are all on offer!
Our region of Kent manages 11 out of the 37 special Nature Reserves in England; we have some breathtaking countryside, wetland and marshes serving a myriad of migratory birds, butterflies, swans, herons etc..
And for those who really do want to lose themselves on a weekend – a long list of noble castles, gorgeous gardens, and memorable manor houses await, sometimes managed by the National Trust for the public, sometimes by eccentric owners, aristocrats, and horticulturists…this is why the region of Kent is aptly named ‘The Garden of England’!
Come and discover it for yourself – you are assured a warm welcome!