Must-See Historical Places in the UK
There are tons of absolutely stunning stuff to see and do in the UK, most of which have a significant historical background and in themselves are stories ready to be told. So, for your next trip to the UK, let them! In reality, though, planning a trip this big and finding objects worth seeing can be quite tricky. So, we are here to help you through it! Check out our top must-see historical places in the UK!
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
An essential part of any tours to Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, stands as the top-visited destination in Scotland and is definitely top five in all of the UK.
The iconic fortress belongs to both New and Old parts of the Towns; Edinburgh Castle is the nation’s defender and an impressive Renaissance building at the least! The fortress perched on Castle Rock has been a royal residence since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century. Since then, the castle had and managed to overcome many dramatic events and changes, which is quite natural, with it being the most important stronghold in the country.
Visit to learn more of its history, the royal buildings and chambers, and, of course, the Scottish regalia, also known as the Honours of Scotland.
For real history buffs, a trip to Wiltshire in England is an absolute must – there is this great and mighty prehistoric monument that will blow your mind!
Consisting of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, topped by connecting horizontal rocks, the unit remains quite a mystery, though there are some strong speculations from archeologists. They believe Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 to 2000 BC, most likely as a burial ground. There is also evidence of it being initially built in Wales and moved to England years later.
Stonehenge is regarded as one of the British cultural and historical icons, one of a few representing the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. The monument is an absolute must! If you need help navigating through our suggested locations, trust Britain trains.
Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast
Now, let’s head to Northern Ireland. One of the most significant historical monuments here, Crumlin Road Gaol, is a former prison and the only remaining prison of the Victorian Era. If you are excited about authentic historical sites and a bit of a shock factor in their stories, the prison is a must-visit.
Here, you will learn about the executions, former inmates, hunger strikes, riots, escapes, and other gruesome details of life in the Crumlin Road Gaol.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency declared it an A list building and one of the best-preserved monuments in the country. While you might find its exterior quite unremarkable at first sight, there is something about it that makes it clear it is a prison. The grim walls and dark corners stand for an intimidating picture, one scary enough to house dangerous criminals.
Despite being considered a European Alcatraz, Crumlin Road Gaol had several successful escapes, so if you want to know how and when – book a trip!
Stirling Castle, Scotland
Another one for your Scotland trip! First and foremost, Stirling Castle allows you some of the most magnificent landscapes and surroundings you have ever seen! One of the largest and most important castles in the country, Stirling is wrapped around by three steep cliffs and sits on Castle Hill. So, if anything else, enjoy the vast greenery and natural beauty of it all!
However, Stirling Castle is so important due to its historical role in Scotland’s development. Up until the union with England, the fortress was one of the most frequented residences of the royal family, serving as both a palace and an indestructible citadel. Also, several Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned here, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th century.
Interestingly, Castle Hill, the base of Stirling, was formed and modified by glaciation and is probably approximately 350 million years old. So, we suggest you take a tour, preferably a guided one, and learn all there is to know about the iconic Stirling Castle.
Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Now, back to England. The most extensive monastic ruins in the country, Fountains Abbey, is the best-preserved Cisterian monastery in England. Founded in the 12th century, it operated successfully for 407 years until the sudden dissolution of all the monasteries in 1539, as ordered by Henry VIII.
In 1938, Studley Royal Park, including the ruins of Fountains Abbey, was purchased by National Trust and since then has been managed by English Heritage.
But, way before that, and even before its dissolution in the 16th century, the abbey faced many challenges. By the end of the 13th century, it became financially unstable due to inconsistent sales of the wool crop then; shortly after that, it was harshly criticized by Archbishop John le Romeyn, commenting on its dire physical state. But that is nothing compared to what came after. The disasters continued in the 14th century when northern England was invaded by Scots and culminated with the 1348-1349 Black Death.
Luckily, Fountains Abbey was reconstructed and opened as an exhibition space in 2000, which now gives you access to see these magnificent, UNESCO-recognized sites.
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
An obvious choice to the list, but still a must-mention. The oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world has been the British Royal Family home for over 1000 years, starting with Henry I in the 12th century and remaining an official residency to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Contrary to popular belief, the castle was never just a home or a lavish residency frequented by the Royal Family on holidays. Instead, it is a proper fortress built to protect and withstand the attacks, which it did in the 13th century when Baron Wars took place. Actually, to this day, you can see evidence of battle hidden in the walls of Windsor.
Actually, no UK trip would be complete without visiting the castle. Knowing how important the British Royal Family is to Europeans, not to mention the most significant organ in England’s history, it remains solidly one of the top historical must-sees on our list.
The size and the architecture of the castle are truly staggering, so even looking around will be an experience. First, however, we suggest you purchase the tickets for an inside tour to learn more about Britain’s Kings and Queens, their family history, and England’s narrative, not to mention catch glimpses at their royal chambers and intricate, lavish venues. Keep in mind that you have to book tickets in advance!
Titanic Belfast, Northern Ireland
A name instantly recognized by all, the media-famous and widely acclaimed Titanic was initially built in Belfast, and not London as many think! So naturally, there is a vast museum to commemorate what was supposed to be the most remarkable voyage ever, yet turned into a catastrophe in 1912.
Exactly one hundred years after the Titanic’s demise, Northern Ireland blessed its visitors with the museum, displaying nine interactive galleries, features, and other exhibitions. Also, if you are into industrial history and shipbuilding, the museum is a perfect fit for you!
You can even live out your Titanic dream by visiting SS Nomadic, the world’s last remaining lifeboat used to save passengers from sinking. Walk the deck, and travel back 100 years; just try to imagine what it was like, in a moment of complete despair.
Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire
During the Second World War, Bletchley Park was England’s most important decoding center, a place of geniuses and war heroes and a high number of workers trying to decode the German messages and stop the war.
Apart from the fascinating historical heritage, Bletchley Park is a stunning site to behold. The mansion was constructed in the 19th century, mixing the features of Victorian Gothic, Tudor, and Dutch Baroque styles.
Discover the fascinating stories of what was once a top-secret mission that helped shorten the war by a few years and saved millions of lives. Most importantly, the codings of the Enigma and Lorenz ciphers were cracked by a team of codebreakers, mathematicians, and cryptanalysts.
The top-secret missions that took place in Bletchley Park are shown and depicted in various Hollywood movies, so you might know of it already. However, naturally, not everything shown on television is accurate, so the best way for you to find out more of its actual meaning and what really went on here is to travel to Buckinghamshire and explore for yourself.
Now that you are way more acquainted with the most important historical sites in the UK, your trip is bound to be incredible. So be attentive and take in as much as you can. History, as they say, is useful to the modern traveler. So, dear traveler, get ready and have fun!