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Canterbury

A must see destination

Canterbury Cathedral

Durovernum Cantiacorum means: "stronghold of the Cantiaci by the alder grove". This beauty spot, in southwest England, was once the land of the Cantiaci a Celtic tribe. Then the Romans took it endowing it with its Latin name. One hundred years after the Romans left it became the favored place for Jutish (Danish) refugees. They renamed the place Cantwaraburh, meaning: "Kent people's stronghold". Today it is known as Canterbury.

In 597 AD, Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine to convert King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. Once this was completed Augustine made the city an official seat (episcopal see) for the Holy Catholic Empire in Britain. The Danes attacked again in 991. Remembering the destruction caused by them, the inhabitants of Canterbury did not resist William the Conqueror's invasion in 1066. William immediately ordered a wooden motte-and-bailey castle to be built by the old Roman city wall. In the early 12th century, the castle was rebuilt in stone.

Stone gatehouse

Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered at the Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, because he resisted King Henry II of England's plans to undermine the Catholic Church. After this Canterbury became notable in Europe. Pilgrims from all parts of Christendom came to visit the shrine of the dead Archbishop. Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th century collection of stories, "The Canterbury Tales" came about from this tale of woe.

In this short and inadequate history of Canterbury you may begin to understand why the city is worth a visit when in England. It was heavily bombed during WWII, but much of its history is still well represented with architecture from its past. The best example is the Canterbury Cathedral. However, within a short walk of the minster you can find remains of, Roman stone walls, stone gatehouses, a Roman burial mound (used by Normans to build a castle on), and many fantastic examples of Tudor buildings.

Roman burial mound

When in Canterbury you must take a punt boat on the River Stour, or Great Stour, as it will give you views of the city not possible any other way. And a walk up the main street will allow you a glimpse of modern day Canterbury. The street is a mix of ancient buildings and modern shopping. You will see students, shoppers, street people, and tourists as you make your way through the heart of town.

Canterbury is a magnificent place full of history. Today it is a modern shopping and tourist center, but its past is represented in the people, buildings, and stories there. It is waiting for you.


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