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Although it has been over a century since the Titanic set sail, Southampton is still nicknamed the Cruise Capital of Europe. Along with a bustling and lively waterfront, this town in the South of England has a lot of fascinating places for a visitor to explore. In addition to the many shops and (student) pubs, the historic city centre still features various medieval remnants. This includes large sections of the 14th-century city walls and lovely merchant homes with ornate facades.
Like so many other English towns, Southampton endured numerous German airstrikes during the Second World War. That is why the locals are very proud of the city gate, the Bargate, which dates back to 1180. This landmark gatehouse is a great starting point for a walk through the city centre, which houses a number of historic attractions such as the photogenic Medieval Merchant’s House, the Tudor House and the ruins of the 14th-century Holyrood Church, where you will also find the Titanic Memorial.
Southampton boasts one of the best preserved medieval city walls in England. There are several places where you can climb the wall. In the past, these walls offered protection from attackers on land and on sea, such as the French pirates that besieged the city around 1360. But even these threats were unable to stifle the city’s trading spirit. The Wool House on the waterfront is evidence of the importance of English Wool as an export product. For centuries, the large wine cellars under the merchant homes in the city were stocked with wines from Bordeaux. Today, many of these vaults serve as party or concert venues.
Close to the charming Blue Anchor Lane, on the west side of the city centre, stands one of Southampton’s best known attractions: the Tudor House and its Garden. This charming museum in a 14th-century merchant home with a classic ornamental garden unites more than 800 years of English history. One of the annexes to the building was already inhabited during the Norman period, which began halfway through the 11th century. In addition to archaeological finds, paintings and other historic artefacts, the museum also displays several period-rooms, including a Victorian kitchen. Another lovely spot is the museum’s tea parlour, with views of the charming flower-filled garden.
For a stronger libation in an equally historic setting near the Tudor House, visit The Duke of Wellington. It’s hard to believe that this pub – with its high wooden beam ceiling and lush flower boxes along the facade – has been serving ales since the 15th century. Enjoy a pint or a plate of fish and chips by the cosy fireplace. That is, if you aren’t afraid of ghosts. Some residents of Southampton, a city full of legends, claim that the pub is haunted by a friendly ghost who fills up the glasses. Even the ghosts are welcoming in Southampton!