If you’re planning a trip to the United Kingdom (UK), you’re in for a real treat. An intriguing and beautiful mix of past and present, the UK is the gateway to Europe and has a fascinating and well-defined culture all its own. Prominent business marketing consultant Louie Manalastas has been there many times and he finds new things to love and explore each time he goes. Here are some top recommendations for things you must see when you get there.
1. The Tower of London
This site is almost a no-brainer for anyone visiting the UK. Arguably the country’s most popular and well-known tourist attraction, the Tower of London has been standing guard over the nation for nearly 1,000 years. Throughout its storied and checkered past, it has been a defense for the city of London, a royal residence, a treasury, a prison, a museum and more. Some of history’s most famous tales and enduring mysteries took place there. Such well-known historical persons as Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Lord Guildford Dudley and more have found their final resting places within the Tower grounds. The infamous Princes in the Tower vanished from there in 1483 and their real fate has never been discovered.
The Tower buildings and sprawling grounds provide plenty to see and do. Plan on spending an entire day at the Tower of London when you come. A visit here is almost like a trip in a time machine. It is definitely something that is not to be missed on a first visit to the UK.
About an hour and a half drive north of London is one of the most famous landmarks of ancient history. The stone circle atStonehenge on the Salisbury Plain is recognized in images all over the world. Historians are still debating exactly when, how and by whom it was built. Estimates of its construction range from 4,000 to 10,000 years ago. Debate over its purpose continues to this day. Many fascinating archaeological finds have been discovered there that offer tantalizing clues, but no real answers. It’s an ongoing historical mystery. Louie Manalastas loves Stonehenge and is drawn to it nearly every time he goes to the UK.
The government of the UK is very concerned with preserving the integrity of Stonehenge. Therefore, access to the stones themselves is much more restricted now than in the past. The stone circle is surrounded by a fence and the fence keeps most visitors at a pretty good distance. It’s still awe-inspiring to be in the vicinity of the stones, though. Not everyone is kept at arm’s length, however. One (and only one) tour company in the UK is authorized to take visitors beyond the fence to the stones themselves. Try to get on that tour if you can. There’s a waiting list. The government also opens up Stonehenge for everyone twice a year on the solstices.
3. Rosslyn Chapel
This chapel inspired some of the most exciting scenes in Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, “The DaVinci Code.” Located in Scotland (part of the UK), Rosslyn Chapel is a stunning example of medieval stonework. It was built in the mid-1400s by the Sinclair family and has a strong association with the Knights Templar and Freemasonry. Rumors circulate about the unusual architecture of Rosslyn Chapel and what certain symbols and adornments may mean. Some say that the Masons who built the chapel hid messages and even artifacts within their work. The chapel is also rumored to be the hiding place for the mummified head of Jesus, the treasures of the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and the original Scottish crown jewels. This is a wonderful place to visit to immerse yourself in mystery and legend. Maybe you’ll even solve one of the chapel’s many secrets while you’re there.