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The biggest city in Devon and well known for its harbour and nautical history

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Plymouth, which is the biggest city in Devon, is most well known for its harbour, known as Plymouth Sound. Most of the city's history is centred around the harbour's existence, and the nautical history that has come through its waters. Even today it is a major dockyard for the Royal navy.
One of the most famous sailors to have visited the city was the renowned explorer and sea captain, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed from Plymouth to battle the Spanish Armada. A popular story is that Drake was playing a game of bowls, when he learned of the approaching enemy ships. He decided that there was plenty of time to finish before he set sail. Some time later, the captain had won both the game, and the war.
A statue of Sir Francis can be found looking out to sea from Plymouth Hoe, which is one of the city's most recognisable areas. It is also home to Smeaton's Tower, which - with its red and white stripes - is arguably Plymouth's major landmark. The tower used to be a lighthouse, and was a major technical achievement in its time having been originally located on the tiny Eddystone rock 10 miles out at sea. It was in use within the 18th and 19th centuries, but was then relocated to the Hoe to act as a memorial. To the south lies the Royal Citadel, an even older building. This Tudor fort, which was built around 350 years ago, protected the city from attack. It was once equipped with over 100 guns!
But perhaps the best thing to do at Plymouth Hoe is to just sit on the grass, and watch the ships go past. There's always something to watch, from small sailing boats, to huge ferries. Every August, most of the city gathers here to watch the UK Fireworks Championships, which take place over two days and feature some of the best displays in the world.
Plymouth's oldest area is the Barbican, which surrounds the port. Here you can see the Mayflower steps, which represent the steps that the Pilgrim Fathers walked down, as they climbed aboard their ship. The Mayflower was to be their home for two months, as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean to establish a new colony in North America. You can still catch a boat trip from the port, although these craft travel much shorter distances! Most of them conduct various public tours across the Sound.
One of the most well established businesses within the Barbican is the Plymouth Gin Distillery. This is now the oldest distillery in England that's still up and running. They've been making the famous drink here since 1793, and in that time, it has reportedly become the favourite of such famous historical figures as Winston Churchill, and Alfred Hitchcock. Guided tours are available, which conclude with a taste of the finished article.
A more family-friendly attraction is the National Marine Aquarium, which lays claim to the deepest tank in Europe. It holds around 2.5 million litres of water, and contains a representation of an Atlantic reef. Plymouth also has a museum, which recently finished the construction of four new galleries. The building contains a wide range of both local and international exhibits.
The city of Plymouth is currently undergoing an extensive regeneration. There are many reasons to visit the city today, but it's also worth checking back in a few years. The city council have big plans, and you'll want to see what they've done with the place!
Visitor Information
Plymouth (Discovery Centre) Tourist Information Centre, Plymouth Discovery Centre, Crabtree, Plymouth, PL3 6RN. Tel: 01752 266030
Plymouth (Plymouth Mayflower) Tourist Information Centre, Plymouth Mayflower Centre, 3-5 The Barbican, Plymouth, PL1 2LR. Tel: 01752 306330
Smeaton's Tower is open Tuesday to Saturday (and Bank Holidays) from 10am to 3pm (closed for lunch). Entry costs around £2 for adults, £1 for children. The Hoe, Plymouth, PL1 2NZ. Tel: 01752 304774
National Marine Aquarium is open daily from 10am to 5pm (6pm during summer). Entry costs around £11 for adults, £7 for children. Rope Walk Coxside, Plymouth, PL4 0LF. Tel: 08448 937 938

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