The ancient Cathedral town of Canterbury in east Kent is about 55 miles (89 km) east-southeast of London.
The Canterbury Visitor Information Centre (Visit Canterbury) can be found in the Canterbury Heritage Museum in Stour Street. This is the place to go for all information on what to do and see in Canterbury.
Most visitors are drawn to Canterbury because of the murder in the cathedral of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. This terrible event brought thousands of pilgrims to Canterbury Cathedral and now brings a million visitors a year to the historic site.
The Cathedral, the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and the Saxon St Martin's Church are all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Medieval Town Walls
Parts of the medieval city walls still surround the town centre but only the West Gate Tower entry remains standing. The town centre is closed to traffic allowing visitors to wander freely through the narrow streets and beside the River Stour which meanders through the town. Black and white timbered Huguenot Weavers houses line the river beside the High Street making for a great photo.
Visitors to the Cathedral still enter the precincts through Christ Church Gate, a fabulous turreted gatehouse built in 1517. The elaborate carvings and shields are dedicated to the last patron of the Abbey, Prince Arthur, elder brother of King Henry VIII.
Medieval streets with overhanging buildings and quaint names such as Mercers Lane lead off from Buttermarket Square in front of Christ Church Gate.
From Easter to October guided walks around the town are conducted by Canterbury Tourist Guides. Tickets are available from Visit Canterbury, Tel: +44 (0)1227 459 779.
There has been a settlement at Canterbury since pre-historic times and contemporary artefacts are on display in the Canterbury Heritage Museum.
In the 1st century AD the Romans captured the Celtic settlement and rebuilt it in a grid pattern. The town had many amenities including a theatre, a temple, a forum and public baths. The town’s Roman period is captured in the fine Canterbury Roman Museum which includes the remains of a town house with superb in situ mosaics.
In the late 3rd century the Romans surrounded the town with an earth bank and wall. Between 1378 and 1402, the wall was virtually rebuilt, and it is these remains that we see today.
When the Romans abandoned Britain in 410 AD the town declined, becoming a farming community until the Anglo-Saxons moved in. With the arrival of missionary St Augustine in 597 AD and the building of his first cathedral across a roman street within the old city walls, Canterbury became a thriving town once again.
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Canterbury and its pilgrims were immortalized, of course, in Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem The Canterbury Tales. If you have ever tried to read the poem you will know it is written in difficult Middle English. The Canterbury Tales visitor attraction presents these delightful stories in a way that anyone can enjoy Web: Canterbury Tales Website External Link
There is a lot to see and do in Canterbury. The CVIC has plenty of information on attractions and places to visits on their website under Web: 'Attractions to Visit' External Link
The town is home to the University of Kent, and is close to the seaside towns of Whitstable and Herne Bay. If you get tired of history, you can indulge in some shopping, go for a boat trip on the river or enjoy some music or drama in the many venues and theatres in the town.
The City has done its best to keep it Visitor Friendly. A Ring Road runs around the Town outside the City Walls. It is here that visitors will find the Park and Ride facilities.
Contact & Further Information
Canterbury City External Link
The Canterbury Visitor Information Centre has excellent information on its website Web: 'Getting There information' External Link
- Park & Ride:
Canterbury has 'Park & Ride' facilities (They discourage parking in the City). Information is available on the 'Getting There' website above.
Google Maps - Canterbury