Territory

Wonders of the United Kingdom

Durdle Door - one of the wonders of the United Kingdom
Durdle Door in Dorset. / Michael Levine-Clark, Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

T

hroughout many centuries the United Kingdom has enjoyed relative political stability and wealth. As a result, humans have created here countless amazing and well-preserved values of art and history.

Some of the most amazing wonders of the United Kingdom are:

  • Castles and fortifications – some of the most magnificent structures of this kind in the world. In medieval times islands experienced stiff warfare between many smaller states and clans, leading to the construction of numerous fortresses. It happens that descendants of these medieval rulers live in castles!
  • Palaces. Only royalty and bishops have true "palaces" according to the British tradition. Others have stately homes, country houses, etc. Often here have been preserved valuable collections of art – a British country house may contain Renaissance or Impressionist paintings that would make any metropolitan museum proud.
  • Churches. Britain is extremely rich with amazing, beautiful churches and it is not easy to select the best of them. The magnificent Gothic churches of the United Kingdom often have very large windows adorned with amazing stained glass, the intricate stone vaulting and ribs represent an early application of British engineering talent.

United Kingdom consists of four countries as well as of three crown dependencies and 14 overseas territories.

Countries and territories of the United Kingdom

Countries

Crown dependencies

Overseas territories

These territories have separate pages in Wondermondo and are not described in this page.

Map with the described wonders of the United Kingdom

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of the United Kingdom

Archaeological wonders

Stonehenge

England, Wiltshire

One of the most popular archaeological monuments in the world, consisting of a group of large standing stones in a circular setting, erected sometime around 2500 BC (?). Located in the middle of a dense complex of archaeological monuments.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Architecture wonders

Westminster Abbey

England, London

Royal Church of the United Kingdom with numerous art values. Constructed in 1245 – roughly 1745, mainly in the Gothic style. One of the earliest representatives of Gothic architecture in England.

Westminster Abbey
Windsor Castle

England, Berkshire

One of the major castles and palaces of the world. This castle was built by William the Conqueror and since then used as a royal palace. Longest occupied palace in Europe, the largest inhabited palace in the world. Throughout the centuries the castle was largely extended, always trying to imitate early medieval designs. Beautiful interiors. Site of many important historical events.

Windsor Castle
Hampton Court Palace

England, Greater London

Royal palace, one of the most impressive palaces in United Kingdom. Started in late Gothic – Renaissance style in the early 16th century, continued in Baroque style in the 17th century. Site of numerous important historical events, contains huge amount of valuable artwork, site of legends.

Hampton Court Palace
British Museum

England, Greater London

Museum of human history and culture, one of the most comprehensive museums in the world. Established in 1753 and since then gradually expanded. Amazing architecture of Great Court (2000), the main building is an important example of the Greek Revival from the middle of the 19th century. Contains numerous unique items of high importance to the culture of the world, such as Rosetta Stone, a mummy of Cleopatra, Elgin Marbles from Parthenon, Discus-thrower, Cyrus Cylinder, cuneiform tablets from Ashurbanipal Library, drawings by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael, and numerous other renowned artists, Hoa Hakananai moai statue from Easter Island.

Natural History Museum

England, Greater London

One of major natural sciences museums of the world, housing some 70 million specimens. Located in a beautiful building that was built in 1881. One of the most renowned specimens is 32 m long replica of Diplodocus carnegii.

Winchester Cathedral

England, Hampshire

Impressive building, one of the largest cathedrals in United Kingdom, longest (169.5 m) Gothic cathedral in Europe. Present cathedral constructed in 1079-1093 in Norman style, rebuilt into Gothic structure in several periods until the 16th century.

Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire, west front
Blenheim Palace

England, Oxfordshire

Enormous country house, the only non-royal and non-episcopal country house in England that is named palace. Built in 1705 – 1724 in splendid English Baroque style and contains many valuable artworks. Home of Churchill family for several centuries, now property of Dukes of Marlborough.

Exeter Cathedral

England, Devon

One of the greatest Gothic style cathedrals in England. The present building was started around 1133 and after several remodelings was built roughly at 1400. Most of it is in Decorative Gothic style with significant parts remaining from Norman times. Contains significant medieval artworks – 50 misericords, unique minstrel’s gallery from roughly 1360, astronomical clock, priceless medieval books. The nave is adorned with the longest vaulted ceiling in England and represents a sight of unusual beauty.

Durham Cathedral

England, Durham

One of the finest examples of Norman architecture, one of the greatest churches in the United Kingdom. Built by Norman conquerors in 1093-1133, in Romanesque style. It is interesting though that there (before its time) are used some elements of the next – Gothic style. Contains relics of several saints – St Cuthbert, head of St Oswald of Northumbria, Venerable Bede.

Tower of London

England, Greater London

Royal palace and fortress. White Tower – the central keep – constructed in 1078 – 1087 by William the Conqueror and represents an outstanding example of Norman architecture. This enormous keep is 27.4 m high, walls up to 3.4 m thick. Used as a prison already in 1100. Over the centuries extended with numerous buildings within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. A building of outstanding historical importance. Tower houses Crown Jewels. This well-known site of legends is reportedly haunted.

Lincoln Cathedral

England, Lincolnshire

Enormous Gothic cathedral, built in 1185 – 1311. One of most beautiful church buildings in United Kingdom. For 249 years (1300 – 1549) was considered to be the tallest building in the world, until the 160 m tall spire collapsed. 148 m long building with unique facade.

Wells Cathedral

England, Somerset

An enormous, beautiful Gothic cathedral, built in 1175 – 1490 in the site of Roman mausoleum and older church. Very ornate facade, rich collection of medieval stained glass and other art values.

Wells Cathedral, Somerset
Warwick Castle

England, Warwickshire

One of the most impressive medieval castles in England, built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. Site of important historical events. Part of castle turned into country house in the early 17th century. Grounds contain largest trebuchet in the world. Site of legends about ghosts.

British Library

England, Greater London

One of the largest libraries in the world, contains numerous unique books and artworks. More than 150 million items. Contains such printed items as Diamond Sutra (earliest dated printed book from 868 AD), Lindisfarne Gospels, Codex Arundel – manuscript by Leonardo da Vinci and others.

Salisbury Cathedral

England, Wiltshire

One of the most impressive representatives of Early English architecture (Early Gothic style), built in 1220 – 1258. Spire of the church is 123 m tall. Contains the oldest working clock of the world, from 1386. Contains many valuable works of art.

Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire
Rosslyn Chapel

Scotland, Midlothian

Construction of the extremely ornate and symbolically rich chapel started in 1456. Recently gained unexpected popularity due to speculative theories regarding Freemasonry and the Knights Templar.

Castle Howard

England, North Yorkshire

One of the most magnificent palace-like structures in Britain. This stately home has been constructed mainly in 1699 – 1712 in Baroque style, designed by John Vanbrugh. 145 rooms, including the Great Hall that is 24 m high.

Castle Howard, England
Eilean Donan Castle

Scotland, Highland

Beautiful medieval castle on an island in the lake, connected to the mainland over stone bridge from the early 20th century. Originally built in the 13th century to defend from Vikings. Demolished in 1719, restored in 1919 – 1932. Very picturesque structure.

Glamis Castle

Scotland, Angus

Ancient, legendary castle, inhabited by lords of Glamis since 1372 (although existing before). Exquisite plasterwork ceilings in several rooms. Place, where William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth takes place. Unusual and weird stories about this castle, f.e. story about Monster of Glamis – a crippled child kept in the castle away from other people.

Iona Abbey

Scotland, Argyll and Bute

Once one of the largest religious centres in Western Europe, established in 563 and serving as a centre for the spread of Western Christianity. 48 kings of different Western European countries are thought to be buried here.

Chester Cathedral

England, Cheshire

Impressive Romanesque – Gothic church building, constructed in 1272 – 1530s. Possibly this site has been used by Christians since the Roman times. Building has complex structure, it is adorned with detailed carvings. Impressive interiors with valuable fittings and other items.

Gloucester Cathedral

England, Gloucestershire

Ornate Romanesque – Gothic cathedral. Built on a foundation that was laid in 1089. Cathedral built until 1499. This beautiful building is 130 m long, ornate central tower is 69 m tall. Cloisters have amazing fan vaults. Interesting details are the earliest images of golf game in stained windows from 1350 and carved image of medieval football.

Canterbury Cathedral

England, Kent

Enormous, richly decorated and historically important cathedral, rebuilt numerous times since around 740, today mainly in Gothic style. One of the earliest representatives of Gothic style in England.

Canterbury Cathedral, Kent
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

England, Derbyshire

One of the most beautiful country houses in United Kingdom, seat of Duke of Devonshire, home of Cavendish family. Contains unique collection of art values. Initially built in 1553 – 1560s, rebuilt in the 17th century in English Baroque style.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Fodor’s Essential Great Britain: with the Best of England, Scotland & Wales (Full-color Travel Guide)


Great Britain remains a perennial favorite with travelers, drawing almost 3 million Americans each year, many of whom will revisit the nation. People travel here for the hipness of London, the cozy thatched-roof villages of the Cotswolds, or the wild moors and lochs of Scotland, but all want the most worthwhile destinations and savvy travel tips at a glance. The full-color Fodor’s Essential Great Britain provides this with a selective collection of the best of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Rick Steves Great Britain


Explore the misty isle of Great Britain, from lively London to the lush fields of Wales and the craggy beauty of the Scottish Highlands. With Rick Steves on your side, Great Britain can be yours!


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