Just over two hours from London by train, Salisbury has two claims for our attention: its cathedral and Stonehenge. The area is said to sit over important energy lines in the earth and whether you subscribe to this thinking or not, it has clearly always been an important magnet for spiritual pilgrimage.
Stonehenge, 8 miles north of Salisbury is one of England’s prime visitor attractions and with good reason: it’s a mystery. Who built it and why? It’s generally agreed to date from between 3000 – 1600 BC and be aligned with the solstice but how did they get these massive bluestones from Wales to here? Whatever the answers, it is incredible to visit although the atmosphere is these days compromised by visitor numbers, barriers and the nearby motorway.
By comparison, Salisbury’s 13th century cathedral is young. It’s Britain’s finest and largest medieval building, and has been almost untouched since it was built. The impressive Gothic building has the world’s oldest mechanical clock dating from 1386, and one of four surviving copies of the Magna Carta (England’s first charter of statute) and offers great views to those who climb the 300 steps to the top of the cathedral tower.
If you’ve got time and an appetite for more history, head further north past Stonehenge to Avebury, another stone circle of 27 remaining stones. It’s equally as atmospheric as Stonehenge and less crowded. And when you feel like something more contemporary, you can go to a performance at Salisbury Playhouse or Salisbury Arts Centre, go dancing at The Chapel, or hang out in one of this small city’s many bars or restaurants.