I often feel very lucky to live in a country with such a long, intricate history. Walking around cities in the UK, it’s easy to feel as if the iconic heritage buildings have transported you back to another time. Nothing has this effect more than our beautiful cathedrals – breathtaking national treasures that define the skylines in which they stand. If you’re visiting the UK for the first time, it’s essential that you explore one or two of these magnificent sites.
Although you might think you know what to expect, no two cathedrals in the UK are really the same. Each building has a unique flair and flavor that makes every one an interesting experience. That’s why we’ve decided to use this week’s post to showcase some of the UK’s most beautiful cathedrals. Check out our favorite five.
We really couldn’t start this list with anything else. Saint Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most spectacular highlights, and certainly one of Sir Christopher Wren’s most iconic works. After the great fire of London, Wren was tasked with rebuilding churches across the city. He began designing the new St Paul’s in 1669, though the building would not be completed and consecrated for official use until 1697. If you haven’t seen it yet, take the time to do so on our St Paul’s Cathedral experience.
The sturdy yet elegant-looking Minster has survived a long history of tribulation. From fires to civil war and religious turmoil, this stunning Gothic building has played its part in generations of English history. It’s also one of the largest of its kind in Europe and contains some of the most fascinating features of any church in the UK. Spend some time exploring its marvelous stained glass and unique King’s screen.
The story of Salisbury Cathedral’s founding is as fascinating as the building itself. We really recommend spending some time absorbing its stories as you walk the magnificent cloister gardens. Largely completed by 1258, the cathedral is today the tallest church spire in the UK and houses one of only four remaining copies of Magna Carta. It’s a must see!
Of course, we couldn’t talk about tall spires without mentioning Lincoln Cathedral. For 238 years, the magnificent central spire of Lincoln made it the tallest building in the world, before it came toppling down during a storm in 1549. The Cathedral still has so much to offer though, including its own Wren Library, the tower clock, it’s famous wooden trusses and the fabulous story of the Lincoln Imp.
The darkened local sandstone of Lichfield Cathedral gives the site a unique look and makes it one of the more striking buildings on our list. If you visit, make sure to check out the Lichfield Angel – a fascinating sculptured panel of the archangel Gabriel that’s nearly 2000 years old.
If you’re a big fan of Harry Potter you might recognize some of the sights around Durham Cathedral. Many of the films’ Hogwarts scenes were filmed here, and the building itself is one of the most whimsical on our list. Sitting on top of a grand hill in the center of town and surrounded by lush green trees, Durham is magnificent. You could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into a fantasy novel when you first lay eyes on it. Add to this it’s great historical significance as the resting place of both Saint Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede, and you have a truly magical destination.
We highly recommend getting out to visit some of these spectacular sites. But if you’re only stopping over in the capital, make sure you check out Saint Paul’s before you leave. England’s cathedrals really do show off the best our country has to offer.