The charming historical city of Canterbury is a fascinating place to start your Via Francigena journey. Originally built by the Romans, the city still this to day shows its Roman roots through its ancient walls, cobbled streets and medieval centre. The middle-aged pilgrimage site, is steeped in culture and history and here we give you all you need to know.
Undoubtedly, the most famous and oldest Christian structure in England. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican communion. It also takes a dark place in history when Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered inside the Cathedral in 1170.
The city is also famous for a collection of stories written about a group of pilgrims travelling together from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. The stories were published way back in 1387 by author Geoffrey Chaucer. Interestingly, the question of whether The Canterbury Tales is a finished work is yet to be answered. The Canterbury Tales at St Margaret’s Church has costumed guides to take you on five of the pilgrim’s journeys from London to Canterbury.
Canterbury City Walls
The Canterbury City Walls are a sequence of defensive walls built around the city. So durable were these walls, with a thickness of two and a half metres, they offered severe resistance to the Viking invasions of Kent. Today the wall offers tourists a chance to “walk the wall” with plaques dotted along the route offering information. The wall has been preserved excellently, with great viewpoints along the way.
The castle was one of the three original Royal castles of Kent, all of which were built soon after the Battle of Hastings on the main Roman road between Dover and London (the route taken by William the Conqueror in October 1066). You can climb partly up inside one of the towers to get an idea of its scale, or just wander through the grounds at your own pace.
See the sights from the water
Once the main source of commerce connecting the city to the rest of Europe in Roman times, now the River Stour flowing through the city offers a much more tranquil setting. There are many opportunities to enjoy the city from the river, for those more active than walking or cycling. Alternatively, for those not feeling as energetic then there are numerous river tours.
So, why not start your Via Francigena journey today and what better place to do that than in one of the most picturesque towns in Southern England. Please contact our travel specialists today.