If you are going to Salisbury, you cannot miss the iconic Salisbury Cathedral. Dating back to the 13th century, every time I’ve stepped through its doors, I feel as if I’ve been taken back through time.
Like any European cathedral dating back to the middle ages, it has a long history and you can read more about it in the Salisbury Cathedral website’s History section.
The cathedral is still fully in use as part of the Church of England. Services are held, including Evensong with choral and organ music that anyone can attend. You can also walk round the cloisters, and there’s a shop and cafe if you need to take a break. Local volunteers are stationed around the cathedral to tell you about its history and answer any questions.
My personal favourites are doing the Tower Tour (only about £10), and viewing one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta!
If you don’t have a tremendous fear of heights (or you possess enough determination to get over it within a few minutes), your visit wouldn’t be complete without actually climbing the spire (make sure you’re also wearing comfortable walking shoes!). I’ve done it a few times with various family members, and each time we’ve been led up by an impressively-fit 60 or 70 year old who can tell you all sorts of anecdotes and stories about the cathedral. The first leg of the climb is easy and you’re only solid stone. And the view into the cathedral is breathtaking.
Getting up to this first level is the easy part. It’s when you climb up further that it gets a bit more precarious.
In order to reach the top, you’re not just climbing narrow stone steps. You also have to climb up these narrow spiralled steps. Some of the wood that you’re stepping on, and some of the wood beams keeping the spire together, date back to the 13th century – you learn this from the guide as you’re going up, not before buying your ticket! Altogether, it’s 332 steps so you have to be sure you want to commit to climbing. And going down is equally challenging!
I tell you this only so you know what you’re getting yourself into and so you’re prepared. But making it to the top is definitely worth it! You can look down onto the rest of the Cathedral, and you get a great view of the Cathedral Close as well as the rest of Salisbury – in all 4 directions!
I will admit now that I have a terrible fear of heights and get wobbly legs just looking down. But I keep going back up just for the view, and that sense of accomplishment – and because it never gets old! But every time, I am also very happy to get my feet back on solid ground and look at the rest of the cathedral…
Head over to the Chapter House and see one of four remaining copies of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was signed by King John of England in 1215, and granted more freedoms and rights to the English people. You can learn more about the Magna Carta on the cathedral’s website too.
I’ve included this photo of the Chapter House (which in itself is a beautiful section of the cathedral) and the covered area where you can view the document. I couldn’t take any photos of the actual document, so you’ll have to visit the Cathedral to see it for yourself!
If and when YOU visit!
Definitely check out the Salisbury Cathedral website to plan your visit. As you’ll want to walk around the outside of the cathedral, circle the cloisters, and climb the spire if you’re brave enough, try to avoid a rainy day!
Aside from the Spire tour, there’s no cost to entering, although donations are requested for the maintenance of the cathedral.
I’d recommend attending one of the Evensong services – there’s nothing quite like listening to choral music within a medieval cathedral!
And remember that it’s in the heart of Salisbury so you’re not far from shops and restaurants if you need to stop anywhere. And you can also take a wander around the Cathedral Close too.