UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe
© Fingal Ross
Bath was first established by the Romans as a spa, built around hot springs, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Roman Baths are the major draw card of this large town, you will pay a bit to get in, however it is well worth it. Most locals come to Bath to shop, but for the traveller, there are numerous other things to see that are not too costly: Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, The Royal Crescent, The Circus, The Pump Room and for all of you whose heart skips a beat for Mr Darcy, there is the Jane Austen Centre complete with costumes to try on. If you have a few hours and aching muscles, then find your way to the Thermae Spa, where you can soak in the naturally hot spring waters of the town. If you are lucky enough to be there on a Saturday, there are markets and buskers on Stall street, otherwise marvel at the Edwardian architecture and appreciate the wonders of the Roman Empire.
Durham is a small but elegant university town dominated by England's finest Norman cathedral. You might have the feeling that you have seen this grand 11th century cathedral before, for it was used in the Harry Potter movies as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - a fact they are strangely shy about. Both the gorgeous cathedral and the next-door Durham Castle are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are the centre for the cobblestone old Durham town. It would have been picture-perfect, if it wasn't for the collection of drab concrete extensions of the university. For the best views of the cathedral and its massive towers, take a stroll through the woods on the other side of River Wear.
The Giant's Causeway is a surreal area of packed naturally-made hexagonal rock columns. There are more than 40,000 of them, formed some 60 million years ago when lava from an ancient volcano cooled off. They are stacked together in such a way that they stick right into the air, making a natural giant stepping stone pathway stretching out to the sea, hence the name. It has of course led to myth and legends involving giants. The same rock formations can also be seen at the island of Staffa in Scotland (Fingal's Cave) across the sea. You are welcome to walk on the columns, but be careful not to get too close to the crashing Atlantic waves. It's fascinating to see how well-defined the geometrical shaped columns are from the rest of the otherwise ordinary rocky shore. If you can take your eyes off the wonder, the view of the Northern Ireland coastline is almost equally spectacular. The Giant's Causeway is well-deserved an UNESCO World Heritage Site - and Northern Ireland's only.