Five Places To Do A July Fourth Victory Lap Around England
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock. All other photos courtesy their respective attractions.
We love England, let's be clear. And we're not alone in this, as the country's skyrocketing tourism numbers prove. And while no one likes a sore winner, this weekend's celebration of American Independence from Great Britain has us itching to head over to this sceptered isle and take in all of its historic grandeur. And possibly gloat a little.
On the north bank of the River Thames lies Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, affectionately known as the Tower of London. It was founded in 1066 and originally served as a royal residence although it has served as a prison, an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England.
Today, the tower is one of the most visited sites in England and the Crown Jewels, which have been on display here since about 1669, are still open for public viewing. You can also take a tour with a Beefeater and experience the history of the menagerie, the royal mint and much more.
The closest estimates put the construction of Hadrian’s Wall somewhere in the neighborhood of 122 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This 73-mile-long barrier was built (as best as historians can figure) as a way to keep out possible threats, keep track of smuggling and taxation, and to serve as an enormous display of the Roman Empire's strength. You can walk or bike portions of the wall on the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail. There are also details for walking the whole thing where you can earn your completion certificate and badge for doing so. They even have a nifty app to help you explore the historic site.
Erected in 1998, Antony Gormley's The Angel of the North is 66 feet tall and has a 177 foot wingspan and is located near Gateshead in County Durham, England. It was built to signify “that beneath the site of its construction, coal miners worked for two centuries...to grasp the transition from an industrial to information age, and to serve as a focus for our evolving hopes and fears.” Over 150,000 visitors come to see the statue each year and more than 90,000 drive by every day.
Probably the most well known prehistoric monument, this ring of stones brings in vistors from around the world every day of the year. Late last year, a full digital scan of three meters below the ground yielded results showing that there was at one point a full city just two miles from Stonehenge as well as burial mounds, religious monuments, the remains of a timber building as well as a 330-meter long chain of huge stones around the Durrington Henge.
London Bridge (Ok, so it’s not in London)
Out in Lake Havasu, Arizona sits the original London Bridge built in, you guessed it, London in 1831. A shrewd developer named Robert P. McCulloch bought the bridge fro the city of London in 1967, had it dismantled, shipped overseas, and reassembled in the middle of the desert in order to drive people to come look at land for investment and development in the area. The bridge, which is the second biggest tourist attraction in the state behind the Grand Canyon, can be self toured or you can take a 90-minute guided tour.
So fist pump your way around that country across the pond on July Fourth knowing that we won the war, but they still own the history. What are your favorite places to visit when you are in England? Let me know in the comments below.
More by Tom Bastek
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