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Culture Guide To Durham

Culture in Durham With its mix of historic architecture, informative museums, scenic parks and a trendy theatre, Durham has a lot to offer those seeking a taste of good old English culture.

For starters why not take a peek inside the magnificent Durham Cathedral [map]. Designed by Bishop William St Carileph in 1093, the building was completed in 1135, although there have been many additions since. Among the exhibits on display here are the shrines of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede.

Next door to the cathedral you’ll find another astounding piece of architecture, Durham Castle [map], which dates back to 1072. The castle, which contains a Norman Chapel, the Great Hall and a 57ft high Black Staircase, was the seat of the Prince Bishops until 1832 when it became the foundation college of the University of Durham.

Together the cathedral and the castle stand proud in Durham’s breathtaking skyline, putting the views across the city among the best sights in Britain.

As well as other important historic buildings, such as the Guildhall and Town Hall, Durham also has some interesting museums and art galleries.

One of the city’s best is Durham University’s Museum of Archaeology [map], which is home to archaeological displays from excavations in and around the city of Durham. As you wander around the museum you will uncover a lot about the city’s illustrious past, like when the Anglo-Saxon monks came to Durham with the body of St Cuthbert and how the castle was constructed.

Or you could visit the famous Durham Light Infantry Museum [map], which traces the proud history of the county’s regiment. Here you’ll discover a superb collection of more than 3,000 medals awarded to more than 1,000 men who served in one of the finest County Regiments – The Durham Light Infantry. Along with medals there are many other artefacts on display, such as uniforms, regimental record books and a memorial book, which you can write in.

For a trip to the historical Far East head to the Oriental Museum [map], the only museum in the UK devoted to art and archaeology from cultures throughout the Orient.

As far as art galleries go there are not many to choose from, however the main establishment, Durham Art Gallery [map], is spot on with its ever-changing exhibitions of top quality traditional and modern paintings, designs and crafts.

Located on North Road in the heart of the city, Angelos [map] is Durham’s other art gallery, which is popular with those looking to buy contemporary works by local artists.

Durham may also only have one theatre but it’s certainly worth checking out as the Gala Theatre [map] plays host to top class national drama, music, opera and ballet. Situated on Millennium Place, the theatre forms part of Durham’s new Millennium City development that includes a visitor centre, cinema, tourist information centre, café bars and a restaurant.

To get back to nature why not pay a visit to the Durham University Botanic Gardens [map] on Hollingside Lane, an 18-acre site set in mature woodland that features exotic trees, the Prince Bishops Garden, and a tropical house with butterflies and insects.

Finally, if you want to head out of the city centre to see what cultural delights lie in County Durham, the Land of Bishops, you should make the trip to Raby Castle [map] near Darlington. As well as being home to Lord Barnard, this medieval castle was where 700 knights gathered to plot the Rising of the North.

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