Salisbury is an incredibly beautiful cathedral city in the South of England, in Wiltshire. It was built on the river Avon and is surrounded by idyllically amazing river-meadows. The residents of Salisbury are very passionate about the native city because it is 5000 years old. They are proud of its unique architectural layout and a special atmosphere of an authentic English province. Moreover, human freedom and rights are highly respected here!
Districts of Salisbury
There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, pubs, and inns for all budgets around Guildhall Square. It often holds concerts and fairs. The main shopping areas are Market Square and the town's main streets (High Street, The Maltings, and Winchester Street).
Attractions of Salisbury
You can call each building here a monument of history and architecture. And it would not be an exaggeration at all! And there are many attractions in the city that can easily be described as "the most". Salisbury can be covered in a day, but you'll want to stay here longer.
In the V century BC, a fort was built, and deep ditches were dug around the hill to protect the trade routes. The area passed from one invader to another for more than a thousand years. The Romans called the settlement Sorviodunum, the Saxons — Searesbyrig, and William the Conqueror's Normans — Seresberi. In the time of the latter (in 1190), a cathedral was built in Old Sarum.
In 1219, due to disagreements between the military and the clergy and a shortage of water in the fort, it was decided to move the temple. Construction of the new cathedral began in 1220, three kilometers from the fort, on the plain where the river Avon flows. New Sarum or Salisbury quickly grew around it, while its predecessor soon fell into complete disrepair.
Lying at the crossroads of important transportation routes, the city began to grow rapidly. There was a great market here every week. And in 1226, Henry III granted the bishop of Salisbury a document entitling the municipality to hold an annual fair. It attracted traders and buyers from all over the county of Wiltshire. A bridge constructed across the Avon in 1244 further increased traffic flows. Salisbury had become one of the most important towns in southern England by the early XIV century.
During the medieval period and until the end of the XVII century, the leading branch of local industry, in addition to trade, was the production of woolen cloth.
By the early XVIII century, civil war, several plague epidemics, and a general economic decline meant that Salisbury had become a small market town. But the municipality paid maximum attention to developing its infrastructure. Over the next two hundred years, streets were paved and lit, water and sewers were installed, a newspaper was founded, a theater, a hospital, a train station, a swimming pool, and a library were built. Regular police units watched over the order in the town.
About 17,000 people lived in Salisbury at the beginning of the XX century. Agriculture was still the mainstay of its economy. In the 1920s, the municipal construction of blocks of flats began, but the architectural unity of the city was deliberately preserved. New buildings were carefully stylized to resemble the old ones. In the postwar period, the largest shopping centers were erected, museums were opened.
At the turn of the third millennium, tourism began to take a leading position in Salisbury's economy. Its location is close to Stonehenge, and its carefully preserved historic appearance, combined with its excellent infrastructure, attracts visitors from all over the world.
The best time to visit Salisbury
The annual International Arts Festival is the main event for the city and for the whole of Britain. It takes place here for over 40 years in late May and early June. The program includes theatrical performances, live music, dancing, exhibitions, circus performances, creative workshops. At the end of the festival, guests are treated to a gala concert and a magnificent fireworks display.
Salisbury is a major transportation hub. The rail service here is excellent. For example, you can reach London in 1.5 hours. The National Express in the capital and a local station provide buses to the city. The latter is on Endless Street. There is an information desk nearby for details of excursions to Stonehenge and other attractions. The tourist office is near the market square on Fish Row.
In addition to hotels and B&Bs, there are several cozy hostels near the city center. Matt and Tiggy's is on Salt Lane near the bus station. There's Youth Hostel on Milford Hill, 10 minutes from the cathedral, in a beautiful historic building.
Campgrounds are another inexpensive option for tourist season accommodations. Salisbury Camping and Caravanning Club Site is close to Old Sarum. At Coombe Touring Caravan Park, you can rent a motorhome. Guests are allowed to bring their dogs as long as the animals are kept on a leash.
Hayball's Cycle on Winchester Street offers bike rentals and an itinerary map of the city.
Things to do in Salisbury
- See with your own eyes the main architectural pearl of the city — the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary or, to put it simply — Salisbury Cathedral. Its architecture is considered a magnificent example of classic Gothic. The spire of the temple is the highest in Britain, and the cloister (covered gallery on the perimeter) is the longest in the country. The cathedral's clock mechanism, which makes the bells chime every hour, was created in 1385. It is considered the oldest on the planet. Just as interesting architecturally is the nearby St. Thomas Church.
- See the exhibition in the Salisbury Cathedral's Capitoline Room, dedicated to the Magna Carta Libertatum. Here you can feel a part of the history of the centuries-old struggle for human rights. Visitors are offered to see one of the four surviving copies of the document, made in 1215 just after it was signed. Every morning at 7:30 AM, one of the "prisoners of conscience", who are imprisoned for their political, scientific, or religious beliefs, is prayed for in the cathedral. One of the church windows is decorated with a stained-glass window "Prisoners of conscience" from the international human rights organization Amnesty International.
- Buy the best local farm products at the more than 800-year-old market. It is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Here you can also find an important historical symbol of the Market Square — the mercat crosses. These are stone crosses with pictures of goods, which were used to mark the places of the sale in the XV century. Only one of them survived to this day.
- Walk through the city's picturesque streets and along the canals of the river Avon, look at the many parks and squares. There are many beautiful and original locations for photos.
- Visit the ruins of Old Sarum, where you can feel the spirit of the time in a special way. You get a wonderful view of the city from the high hill.
- Visit Stonehenge, the most mystical and mysterious megalith in the world. It is only 13 km from Salisbury. Buses leave every hour from the train station to the site.
- Take a tour of the city's historic buildings and museums. The Salisbury Museum has a large collection of archaeological artifacts and paintings. The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum is a military museum that the British call "The Closet." Wilton House (the estate of the Earls of Pembroke) and the home of Sir Thomas Mompesson are architectural masterpieces from different eras. Boscombe Down Aviation Collection is an exhibit in the hangar at Old Sarum Airfield. Fisherton Mill is an art gallery and gift store in a former Victorian brick mill building.
- Organize an art "hunt" — a search for the places depicted in the paintings of the legendary XIX-century English landscape painter John Constable. He was particularly fond of Salisbury and often painted here. It's easy to find the views depicted in "Salisbury's Flooding Meadows." You have to take a special walking route (2 km) from the cathedral to Harnham Meadows in the southwest of the city.