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One of the oldest settlements in the country with architecture spanning many periods

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Chichester is one of the oldest settlements in the country. It was particularly important during Anglo-Saxon and Roman times, but its history extends well beyond these periods. The city still maintains a historic atmosphere, with many buildings and structures left over from all stages of its past. There is no shortage of Grade I and II listed buildings here.
At the centre of the city, you'll find the Chichester Cross. Many towns have similar crosses, which were often used to define the location of a market area. Chichester's though, is a lot more elaborate than most. It's an octagonal structure, with all sorts of stone arches, clock faces, and other decorations. According to an inscription on the surface, it was built by the Bishop of Chichester at the end of the 15th century. For many years, merchants would set up their stalls underneath the cross to sell their wares.
The streets spread out from this central point in a Roman cross-shaped design. Surrounding the main city area is the old town wall, which was originally built in the 3rd century. You can walk along them if you like, which makes for a good way to spend an afternoon. The 2-and-a-half kilometre circuit makes its way past charming houses, and through green parks. As you circle the city, and take in its various sights, you'll encounter a recurring view. There's one building in particular that's Chichester's landmark, and you'll see it from every angle.
This is, of course, Chichester Cathedral. It's the only cathedral in England that's visible from the sea. It's also the only one to have its bell tower in a completely separate building, just a few metres off to one side. Inside the main cathedral, there are all sorts of treasures. As well as the tapestries, sculptures and stained glass windows, you'll also find some ancient Roman mosaic paving, visible through a glass window in the floor. Oddly, there are also Peregrine Falcons nesting in the spire. Sometimes, when new chicks are born, the cathedral displays live video footage of the birds. In the past, the entire population of Chichester could fit inside the cathedral. This hasn't been tried recently, but it would probably be a bit of a squeeze!
As well as having some fabulous architecture, Chichester has a strong cultural scene. If you were to spin around and walk in any direction, you'd be likely to stumble into some sort of museum or art gallery. The highlight of the cultural calendar is usually the Chichester Festivities. This three-week festival takes place every July, with a programme that includes classical, jazz and contemporary music, as well as comedy, theatre, and fireworks. A key part of the event is held at the Chichester Festival Theatre. This venue hosts performances throughout the year but, as you can tell from the building's name, its most important shows are held during the festival. The theatre is a prestigious place that often attracts star performers from London's West End.
Another popular event is the Chichester Real Ale and Jazz Festival. It has modest roots, beginning in 1981 as a fund-raiser for the local hockey team. It has since expanded beyond all recognition, and now features much more than just jazz. World famous artists like James Brown, Status Quo, and Blondie have all previously performed here.
From the city, you can easily reach seaside resorts like Bognor Regis. The South Downs are also on its doorstep. This gives Chichester a great mix of city, coast and countryside, all in the same place.
Visitor Information
Chichester Cathedral is open daily, 7.15am to 6pm. Entry is FREE. Chichester, PO19 1PX. Tel: 01243 782595

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