Canterbury is home to a key UNESCO World Heritage Site that incorporates three fascinating areas across the city - Canterbury Cathedral, with its stunning mixture of Romanesque and Perpendicular Gothic architecture, the modest Church of St Martin (the oldest church in the English-speaking world) and the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey, once a burial place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent.
Queen Bertha the Saxon Queen © Jeff Keenan
— UNESCOAll three buildings are directly and tangibly associated with the history of the introduction of Christianity to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. The imposing cathedral building, set in beautiful gardens, was built around 597AD. Whether you go on a tour or take things at your own pace, don't miss the Anthony Gormley sculpture 'TRANSPORT', currently suspended above the site of the first tomb of murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket, the 1,200 square metres of fantastic stained glass windows, including one of England’s largest collections of early medieval stained glass or the Water Tower from the 12th century (possibly earlier) with piping that has survived and is still functioning today.
St Augustine's Abbey was originally created as a burial place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent and at its height in the Middle Ages, it was one of the most significant religious houses in Northern Europe. For a truly immersive experience, visitors can now see the abbey as it would have appeared in the early 1500s as virtual reality headsets 'walk' you through parts of the 16th-century monastery. Travel back in time and see how a small cluster of Anglo-Saxon buildings developed over the centuries into a grand Romanesque abbey.
St Martin's Church is the oldest parish church still in continuous use. It started as the private chapel of Christian Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome. In 597AD St Augustine and his companions worshipped at the church until King Ethelbert granted him the land for the world-famous abbey and cathedral.