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Dover Castle

Dover Castle

ABOVE: Constable's Gateway, one of the two main visitor entrances to Dover Castle.

Dover, in East Kent, is England's leading cruise and ferry port. Yet Dover's most conspicuous attraction predates the era of steamships and Super Seacats: It looms over the harbor from a site above the chalk cliffs, distracting the visitor's eye from the maritime terminals and outlet shops that have taken over the city's waterfront.

I'm talking, of course, about Dover Castle, a medieval fortress that has dominated the local skyline for more than 800 years.

If I were forced to use just one adjective to describe Dover Castle, I'd pick the word "impressive." It isn't just a castle; it's a massive complex of fortifications dating back to Roman times, when the Pharos (a lighthouse that's said to be the oldest structure in Britain) was built around 50 A.D. Next to the Pharos is a restored Saxon church dating to the 7th Century, which--with the Pharos--is open to visitors.

However, the castle's biggest attraction (both literally and figuratively) is the Great Keep, which was constructed between 1181 and 1187 for King Henry II, the British monarch who is perhaps best known for ordering the murder of Thomas ŗ Becket and fathering Richard the Lionheart. The massive keep is eight stories high, with walls of 17 to 22 feet (roughly 5 to 7 meters) in thickness.

Next Page > The Keep's attractions - Page 2

In this article:
Introduction Visitor Information
The Keep's Attractions Photos
Secret WWII Tunnels More Photos