The United Kingdom, a collection of cultures and countries spanning centuries, houses more than enough history to fill a lifetime. Dotted across four nations, UNESCO has assembled a long line of heritage sites for tourists and natives alike to visit.
1. Tower of London
The Tower of London sits right along the banks of the river Thames, the long snaking body of water that weaves through England’s capitol city of London. Built in 1066 by William the Conqueror the tall white tower embodies Norman power, and stands as both a fortress and gateway into the capitol. Surviving the ever-changing monarchy and development of the cities plethora of royal buildings, it now sits as a symbol of royalty. The tower continues to withstand the test of time, and has been the setting for several key historical events in history like the execution of three English queens.
Photo courtesy | Paul Hudson
2. Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast
Along the Antrim plateau of Northern Ireland sits a national symbol and source of magical myths. Formed around 60 million years ago, the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast is a classic study of basaltic volcanism. It is one of the few places that have helped scientists understand the sequences of activity in the earth’s geological history. It is said that giants once strode across the sea to Scotland from this coast, stepping on the unique 40,000 plus polygonal columns of basalt as they went.
Photo courtesy | Giuseppe Milo
In the southwest of England sits the thermal spa town known as Bath. Founded in the 1st century the Romans looked to use the area’s natural hot springs. Over the course of it’s life Bath was everything from a hot spring destination, to a center for the wool industry in the Middle Ages, and finally an elegant spa city boasting famous literature and art under the reigns of George I through the III. The neo-classical style of the Assembly Rooms and Pump Room blend into the monumental Queen Square, Circus and Royal Crescent creating one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. A hot spot (pun intended) for socialites and the sick seeking curative water, Bath reflects the ambitions of the 18th century.
Photo courtesy | Mendhak
4. Castles and Town Walls of King Edward I
Fortifying the northern border of Wales, in the principality of Gwynedd, Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech as well as the towns of Conwy and Caernafon represent top of the line military architecture from the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The handful of castles and surrounding town walls were designed and directed by James of St George, a man known for his position as King Edward I of England’s chief architect as well as the greatest military architect of the age. Their lasting survival makes them one of the major reference points for medieval history.
Photo courtesy | Elliott Brown
5. Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, Scotland
Up in the north sits a wonderful juxtaposition of old and new. Edinburgh, Scotland creates a breathtaking urban landscape that manages to encompass the medieval old town with the Georgian new town. Stretching from the Castle down to the Palace of Holyrood, Old Town is characterized by narrow lanes, and tall buildings, creating a sense of enclosed space. The New Town by contrast, built between 1767 and 1890, is framed by an uncommonly high concentration of ashlar faced, world class, neo-classical buildings which are associated with architects such as John and Robert Adam. A major center for the Age of Enlightenment, Edinburgh’s dramatic topography results in spectacular panorama and striking skyline, making it one of the most iconic cities in Europe.
Photo courtesy | Andy Smith