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One of the oldest settlements in England, with a beautiful cathedral

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Canterbury Cathedral
Marlowe Theatre
St Margaret's Church
Sarre Windmill
Canterbury is a small city in Kent, which is home to around 50,000 people. The site has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and throughout its development has featured heavily in England's history, and culture.
The settlement was hugely influenced by the Romans, who in the first century, turned it into one of their strongholds. They conducted a lot of rebuilding, as well as adding a theatre, a temple, and public baths. They surrounded 130 acres of the city with a wall, to defend against barbarians.
Another major event in local history occurred after the Romans left, when an Italian monk called Augustine travelled here, and managed to convert the King of Kent to Christianity. Canterbury quickly became an important place for the religion, as a large cathedral and abbey were built. Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury, which has remained the highest position in the Anglican church to this day.
Historical events such as these are still well-remembered in modern Canterbury. Portions of the Roman walls can still be seen, and of course, the Cathedral is still the city's major landmark. It is one of the oldest Christian buildings in the country, and it receives over a million visitors every year. In the year 1190, the cathedral set the scene for one of Canterbury's most famous events - the murder of the reigning Archbishop, Thomas Becket. After several disagreements with the king, several of Henry II's knights confronted him in the north-east transept. Becket was unable to escape, and the men showed no mercy. He was canonised as a saint only a few years later, and this made Canterbury Cathedral an important site for Christian pilgrimages. Today, the church is still well-used, conducting an average of 21 services a week!

Canterbury Cathedral
Photo HansMusil
Another famous building in the city is the Marlowe Theatre, named after the celebrated 16th century playwright and poet, Christopher Marlowe, whose works are said to have strongly influenced William Shakespeare. The theatre is currently undergoing rebuilding and restoration, but visitors to Canterbury can check on its progress, before moving on to view plays and other performances at a variety of other nearby venues.
Because of course, as well as all the historical landmarks, Canterbury is a fully-functioning modern city, with all the amenities that can be expected. There are countless places to shop, eat and drink, set among the pretty medieval streets. The area is especially popular at Christmas, thanks to its annual display of festive lights.

Shopping in Canterbury
Photo Visit Kent
After shopping, tourists will find that there's lots more to do here, including several museums and art galleries. The "Canterbury Tales" museum, set inside St. Margaret's church, is especially popular with visitors. It recreates Chaucer's famous 14th century stories, in an authentic setting. There are also several attractions just outside the city, such as the Sarre Windmill, or the seaside town of Whitstable. But for most visitors, the fantastic history and architecture of Canterbury itself will prove difficult to leave behind.
Visitor Information
Canterbury Visitor Centre, 12-13 Sun Street, The Buttermarket, Canterbury, CT1 2HX. Tel: 01227 378100
Canterbury Cathedral is open daily, 9am to 5pm. Entry costs around £8 for adults. Cathedral House, 11 The Precincts, Canterbury, CT1 2EH. Tel: 01227 762862

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