by Fitzroy of London
Britain is bulging with beautiful buildings steeped in history, places of extraordinary natural beauty and striking ultra-modern structures. Here are some of the must-see British landmarks.
Hadrian’s Wall, Cumbria
Erected by the Romans in 122AD to keep the ‘barbarians’ out under the orders of Emperor Hadrian, this mighty stone wall once stretched nearly 80 miles from coast-to-coast in the north of England. It took three legions of men at least six years to complete.
No matter how many times you see the mighty circle of stones rising from the Salisbury Plain, you’ll always be awestruck by them. The most famous prehistoric monument in Europe, it was erected in the late Neolithic period in around 2500 BC.
White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
The startingly white chalk-faced cliffs on the Kentish coast are arguably Britain’s most iconic natural feature. Known as the gateway to Britain, they were the first sight of home for the troops returning across the English Channel from the Great Wars and have become a symbol of hope. Protected by the National Trust, there are some fabulous walks along the gorgeous coastline including one to the Victorian South Foreland Lighthouse.
Tower Bridge, London
The fairy-tale turrets on the bridge that stretches from the Tower of London to the Shad Thames on the South Bank have made it one of London’s most recognisable structures. It was built in the late 1800s and is open to both cars and pedestrians. There is a museum in the towers and you can visit the Victorian Engine rooms as well as admire the views from its high-level walkways (including a glass section.)
Blackpool Tower, Blackpool
Overlooking Lancashire’s most famous seafront since 1894, this 518ft structure has become a much-loved icon of a glorious bygone era. It was designed by Victorian architect Frank Macham who was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. It’s also home to the magnificent Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
St Paul’s Cathedral, London
A beacon of London’s enduring spirit, Sir Christopher Wren’s graceful cathedral famously stood strong during the Blitz. Wren’s domed structure replaced the original Gothic cathedral that was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Inside, you can climb up 259 steps to the Whispering Gallery within the dome’s interior or dare to venture up to the Golden Gallery on the outside for sensational city views.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
Standing high above the historic city of Edinburgh on the volcanic plug known as Castle Rock, this mighty fortress is one of Scotland’s most visited attractions and rightly so. It was built during the 12th century by David I, son of St Margaret of Scotland, and was the main Scottish Royal residence until the union of crowns in 1603.
Houses of Parliament, London
The political epicentre of Britain has sat here in some form since the 11th century when Danish King Cnut built a palace on the river.
Glastonbury Tor, Somerset
Steeped in pagan history and immortalised poetry and legend, the conical hill of Glastonbury Tor has been one of Britain’s most spiritual sites for over 1,000 years. Follow the trail up to see the ruins of the medieval Chapel of St Michael and to take in the wonderful views across the Somerset Hills.
Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol
Stretching across the Avon Gorge in Bristol, this masterpiece of Victorian engineering was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel when he was a mere 24 years old. Construction began in 1831 and after several setbacks the bridge finally opened in 1864. Despite being designed for horse and carts, it’s still in use today.
Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth
Visible from 23 miles away, this 560ft tall tower on Portsmouth’s historic harbour was conceived to celebrate the new millennium. Various delays meant it didn’t open until 2005, built then the striking structure has been a hugely popular attraction ever since.
St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
A one-time medieval monastery and home to the St Aubyn family since the 17th century, this fairy-tale island fortress sits off Cornwall’s west coast. It can be accessed at low tide across the granite causeway from Mounts Bay or by boat. Roam the gorgeous gardens, wander around the centuries-old castle and head up to the walls to gaze at the spectacular views.
Hampton Court Palace, London
The pleasure palace of the infamously extravagant Henry VIII sits on the banks of the Thames in west London. Originally the home of Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century, Henry transformed it into a grand Tudor palace.
The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford
In a city stuffed with historic buildings, the striking circular dome of the Radcliffe Camera building was arguably the most distinctive. It was built by the architect James Gibbs between 1737 and 1749 to house a new scientific library.
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Once site of a Saxon fortification built to defend against invading Danes and later a motte and bailey castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Warwick has evolved to become one of Britain’s finest and most complete medieval fortresses.
Angel of the North, Gateshead
Antony Gormley’s colossal steel sculpture is a modern masterpiece. Looming over the A1 on the mound of an abandoned coal mine in Gateshead since 1998, the extraordinary and once controversial piece of public art has become a cherished landmark in North East England.
Humber Bridge, Lincolnshire
Stretching across the Humber estuary, this impressive single-span suspension bridge gained Grade I listed status. The 1.4 mile-long iconic structure that links Lincolnshire and Yorkshire on the A15, opened in 1981 and was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world for 16 years.
Albert Dock, Liverpool
Part of Liverpool’s historic waterfront, the Albert Dock features the largest collection of Grade I buildings in the whole of the UK. Established in 1839, the prosperous port became one of the world’s most important trading centres before closing in 1972. A huge regeneration program in the 1980s transformed the derelict warehouses into one of the country’s liveliest cultural hubs.
York Minster, York
Soaring above the twisting, ancient laneways of York, this grand Gothic structure is northern Europe’s largest medieval cathedral. The York Minster is especially renowned for its remarkable windows, including the vast Great East Window, which dates back to 1405 and it’s the world’s largest example of medieval stained glass.
Durham Cathedral, Durham
This awe-inspiring Romanesque cathedral sits next to Durham Castle on a rocky outcrop above a loop in the River Wear and dominates the skyline in the charming medieval city.
Also known as Holy Island, the small tidal island off the wind-whipped Northumbrian coast is one of the earliest centres of English Christianity.
The Scott Monument, Edinburgh
Created to commemorate the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, this soaring and intricate Victorian Gothic monument on Princes Street is one of the city’s best-known landmarks. You can clamber up on the spiral steps for fantastic views of Edinburgh and visit its museum. A marble statue of Sir Walter and his beloved hound Maida sit at the base.
Natural History Museum, London
Originally a collection within the British Museum in Bloomsbury, it was only in the 1850’s that the natural history department’s superintendent Richard Owen pushed for a bespoke space of its own. The result was this grand Romanesque building in South Kensington. The work of architect Alfred Waterhouse, it took nearly eight years to build and opened in 1881 to great acclaim.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Britain is awash with stately homes, but the stunning Chatsworth House is surely a stand out. Surrounded by vast parklands, the estate has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549. It was propelled to wider fame as Pemberley in the 2005 adaption of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley. Inside, the grand house is stuffed with antiques and one of the most important art collections in the country.