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Gothic Salisbury

The glorious Gothic cathedral and museums of Salisbury, England

Many visitors hurrying out to see the famous Stonehenge are surprised to find that they stumble across one of Europe's greatest Gothic cathedrals along the way. Salisbury, gateway to South Wiltshire and its prehistoric remains, is a medieval market town that's a deserved attraction in its own right.

Although you can come see the cathedral, scurry out to Stonehenge, and be back in London by nightfall, you'll be pushing it. There are about 18 daily trains making the 90-minute trip from London's Waterloo station to Salisbury. From here, you can grab a Wilts & Dorset bus for the half-hour leg out to Stonehenge, 12 miles north of the city at the junction of the A303 and A344/A360. Salisbury's Tourist Information Centre (tel. 01722/334-956) is on Fish Row.

Sights in Salisbury

The overpowering sight in town is the Cathedral (tel. 01722/555-121), whose spire dominates the landscape and whose construction started in 1220 and took a remarkably short 38 years.

You can go halfway up the spire for a view of both the church architecture and the surrounding city and then visit the octagonal chapter house for a peek at some medieval manuscripts and one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta.

Don't miss the peaceful cloisters or the brass rubbing center. The cathedral is open daily 7am to 8:15pm (to 6:15pm October to March); admission is £3 ($5), £2 ($3.35) students and seniors, £1 ($1.65) kids 5 to 18.

History buffs will want to stop by the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, 65 The Close (tel. 01722/332-151), to get information about early humans and the remains of nearby prehistoric sites such as Stonehenge and Old Sarum. It's open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm (July and August also Sunday 2 to 5pm); admission is £3 ($5) adults, 75p ($1.25) kids.

The tourist office can fill you in on the other Salisbury sights, mostly visitable 17th- and 18th-century homes, such as the Mompesson House (tel. 01722/335-659) on The Close. It's open March 27 to October, Saturday to Wednesday noon to 5:30pm; admission to the house and garden is £3.40 ($5.65) adults, £1.70 ($2.85) children (gardens only, 80p/$1.35 for all).

Where to dine in Salisbury

Salisbury's finest dining is on the outskirts of town, but the city center does have Salisbury Haunch of Venison, 1 Minster St. (tel. 01722/322-024), a 1320 chophouse with tasty roasts and grilled meats.

Where to stay in Salisbury

To stay the night, try a £127 ($211.65) double at White Hart (tel. 01722/327-476, fax: 01722/412-761), with a Georgian old wing and a motel-like new one. A less pricey room can be had at The Kings Arms (7A-11 St. Johns St.; tel. 01722/327-629, fax: 01722/414-246), a Tudor coaching inn where the doubles range from £60 to £78 ($100 to $130) and the pub is warmed by an open fire.



Intrepid Travel

This article was last updated in May 2007. All information was accurate at the time.

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