When you think about the great cities across the country, it is always the big ones that spring to mind.
While the streets of London may be paved with gold and Liverpool may have been European Capital of Culture, there is one UK city that has overtaken them all to be in the top ten cities to visit in the world in 2015.
Salisbury may be thought as somewhere to stop for lunch after visiting Stonehenge but it is so much more than that. Historically, it is one of the most important places in the country and probably the best city in the UK for a tourist to visit.
And here’s why …
1. It’s the home of the Magna Carta
In 2015 the Magna Carta will be 800 years old and Salisbury is preparing to give it a grand birthday party. One of only four surviving copies can be found in the city and it is one of the most important documents in English history.
The Magna Carta formed the basis of our country’s law for centuries and was signed by King John at the behest of barons around the land.
2. There’s the world’s oldest mechanical clock
It may not be at the top of most people’s bucket lists but Salisbury does boast a mechanical clock from the middle ages that dates from 1386, which is housed in the 13th century cathedral.
It has been hailed as one of the UK’s forgotten jewels, though I expect the person whose job it is to wind it up everyday is very much aware of it.
3. The majesty of Salisbury cathedral
Built in the 13th century, the cathedral has the tallest spire in Britain. At 404 feet high, it is also the tallest masonry structure and was completed a whole century after the cathedral was finished.
The cathedral took 36 years to build and used over 70,000 tons of local stone which was back breaking work for some poor individuals.
4. See how a prime minister lived
When he wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of running the country, Sir Edward Heath would retire to Arundells, his sanctuary in Salisbury.
Whilst here he would enjoy his grand collection of paintings, with an eclectic mix of originals from the likes of Winston Churchill to LS Lowry and now it is preserved for everyone to enjoy.
5. You can get a decent pint
With over 80 pubs in a relatively small town, there is plenty of choice if you fancy a couple of swift ones. The good news for the discerning ale drinker is that local brewery, Hop Back, own a number of the pubs and a great pint is guaranteed.
6. It is full of literary references
The Salisbury International Arts Festival is renowned worldwide and brings together some of the biggest names. The city is also the backdrop for Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure.
Less obscure is the fact that William Golding, who was a teacher in the city, used his spare time to write Lord of the Flies and thus become the bane of English Literature students for years to come.
7. Sir Christopher Wren inspired the architecture
He was born 382 years ago and was celebrated in a Google doodlerecently and he was born not that far away from Salisbury.
Whilst Christopher Wren may forever be linked with redesigning London after the Great Fire, he also had a hand in the architecture of his home city too.
He pointed out that the cathedral spire needed straightening (and strengthening), which probably went down a treat with the proud engineers who were involved with maintaining it.
8. Independent shops have flourished
With most town centres having a familiar look to them, Salisbury has become a whole lot more independent. All the usual big names can still be found, but it is individuality that is at the fore and boutique shopping should be your expectation.
Daily guided coach tours from London visiting Salisbury Cathedral and Medieval City.
Private guided tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury for and small groups
The Stonehenge Travel Company,
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours