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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is the most famous attraction in Canterbury and has given the city much of its identity over the centuries since a church was first constructed here way back in 602, at the beginning of Saxon England's conversion to Christianity by Augustine.

Nowadays Canterbury Cathedral is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and Anglicans worldwide.

Canterbury Cathedral forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising the cathedral along with St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church.

Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, Kent, UK.

In 1070, the first Norman archbishop Lanfranc demolished the original Saxon structure, which had been damaged in a fire and began the building that we now see as Canterbury Cathedral. Little remains of these early Norman structures except for the Romanesque Crypt, which is the oldest of its kind in England, and was begun under an archbishop named Anselm.

Canterbury Cathedral has been much modified and enlarged over the following centuries and includes the 71m-tall Bell Harry Tower (the present central tower) that was completed in 1505, the spectacular Gothic Nave and St. Anselm's Chapel.

Altar of the Sword's Point, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

The spectacular interior of Canterbury Cathedral includes the tomb of King Henry IV and his wife Joan of Navarre and a gilded effigy of the Black Prince, the son of Edward III and one of the most famous of English warrior princes of the medieval period.

Also impressive are the stained glass in the Trinity Chapel which depict the life of Thomas a Becket.

Notice the white marble St. Augustine's Chair where archbishops of Canterbury are enthroned.

Tomb of the Black Prince, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

Canterbury Cathedral is deeply associated with the murder of Thomas a Becket within its walls in 1170. Beckett's shrine stood within the Trinity Chapel until 1538, when it was looted and destroyed during Henry VIII's Reformation.

Now Becket's martyrdom is marked by the Altar of the Sword's Point at the very spot the "troublesome priest" was murdered by knights of Henry II.

As Becket's tomb became a place of pilgrimage immortalized in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, drawing pilgrims from all over Britain and Europe, the cathedral and surrounding town became increasingly wealthy and had the funds to expand and beautify the church.

The fascinating Canterbury Tales museum in Canterbury is a recreation of medieval life celebrating Chaucer's masterpiece.

Canterbury Cathedral stained glass window.

Canterbury Cathedral
11 The Precincts
Kent CT1 2EH
Tel: 01227 762862

Visitors to Canterbury should also visit the nearby Canterbury Heritage Museum and the Roman Museum Canterbury.

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