'Canterbury's past is as rich as it comes' says the latest Lonely Planet guide to Britain. This world-famous cathedral city was one of medieval Europe's great places of pilgrimages and knowledge. Today - with its international visitors and four universities - it still has a distinctly cosmopolitan feel. Less than an hour from London, it's in that corner of England that's almost touching France.
People come from across the globe for world-class heritage, for culture and festivals, to visit and to study, eat and hang out. The extraordinary cathedral dominates the medieval streets within the city walls. Among the listed buildings, a boldly modern theatre - named after the city's famous son Christopher Marlowe - has been built on the river bank, and an art museum has been restored and doubled in size. To the south is St Augustine's Abbey, part of the World Heritage Site, and England's first seat of learning.
Canterbury Cathedral © Tim Stubbings
St Augustine's Abbey © Tim Stubbings
River Tours © Tim Stubbings
Canterbury Cathedral and The Marlowe Theatre © Tim Stubbings
Canterbury Norman Castle © Tim Stubbings
Dane John Gardens in Canterbury © Tim Stubbings
There's something warm and mellow about this intimate European city. Crowds throng around the entrance to the cathedral and in the busy high street. It's lively and fun. But it's also remarkably easy - in a moment - to step off the beaten track into some quiet oasis where you'll hear nothing but songbird, and the splash of oars on the narrow, gently flowing River Stour.