The Midlands in the central part of England correspond approximately to the Central English lowlands. They are also called Black Country because they were the centre of coal mining. Its urban centre is the agglomeration of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry with several million inhabitants. With the completion of the Oxford Canal in 1790, the rise of the Midlands began when goods could be transported by water to London.
Mighty ruin in Woodland Park
It was Ranulf de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester (1172-1232) who built the castle. But his joy at the mighty building lasted only for a short time, for in 1237 it was confiscated by King Henry III. From 1643 Beeston Castle served the New Model Army in the English Civil War and was destroyed in 1646 by soldiers of the Royal Army. One of the two castle fountains is with 113 meters the deepest of its kind in England. The castle ruin has been a Grade I listed building since 1967. The museum in the annex documents the finds around the castle, dating back to the Neolithic period. Woodland Park surrounds the complex offering beautiful walks.
English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass
Center of the industrial revolution
The second largest city of the United Kingdom has a population of just over 1.1 million people; the metropolitan area is home to around 2.6 million. Birmingham was the center of the industrial revolution, which began with the production of weapons in the 15th century. As a consequence to a well educated workforce and the proximity to coal deposits, the city grew rapidly. In 1800 a complex network of narrowboat canals was built; in the 1830s the city was connected to Manchester and London by rail. The main station of New Street is the largest railway hub in Britain. “Brum” as the locals call their city, does not have many tourist attractions – however, besides London it has the best shopping in the country.
Moors, mountains and dense forests
The Brecon Beacons (Welsh: Bannau Brycheiniog) are a mountain chain in southeast Wales. The name refers to the medieval mountaintop beacons used to warn of marauding Angle Saxons. The mountain chain forms the center of Brecon Beacons National Park, which covers nearly 1,400 square kilometers and is probably the most beautiful of the three Welsh national parks. Just west of the Beacons lies Fforest Fawr, a large dense forest that has been declared a UNESCO Geopark. The national park is a great place for hiking, biking, horseback riding, sailing, windsurfing and canoeing.
Adorable old town in northern Wales
The town in the heathlands of northern Wales is known as the “Walled City”. The delightful half-timbered buildings in the historical center, especially the two-story shops in the “Rows” shopping area, are surrounded by the best preserved city walls in the UK. England's early history from the Romans to the Vikings to the Gaels and Anglo-Saxons is omnipresent in this ancient market town, which, incidentally, is also known for its cheese of the same name.
Modern church next to the ruins of a bombed-out cathedral
On November 14, 1940, St. Michael's Cathedral, which was built in the 14th century, was destroyed by German bombs. Only the main tower and several outer walls survived. While cleaning up after the air raid, Richard Howard, the Provost of the cathedral at the time, made a simple cross out of two charred roof beams found in the ruins. This wooden cross can still be seen in the chancel of the ruined church. The new cathedral was built next to the old one. Taken together, the buildings form one of the most striking 20th-century churches.
2000 years of history
The capital of Lincolnshire was founded over 2,000 years ago. Lindum Colonia was established by the Romans in a massive fortress soon after they conquered the region in 48 AD. William the Conqueror ordered the construction of the imposing Lincoln Castle on the site of the former Roman fortress in 1068. The settlement thrived as an important trading center for cloth and wool in the Middle Ages, and by 1150 was one of the richest towns in England. The immense Gothic cathedral towering over the city was the tallest building in the world for over 200 years until the collapse of the central spire in the 16th century.
Historical town in the shadow of a Norman castle
The historic city centre is situated on a hill at a loop of the river Severn. The narrow alleys and house passages are lined by 660 listed houses. Quarry Park, a 120-hectare park in the middle of the city, is a reminder that there was a large quarry here in the Middle Ages. Shrewsbury Castle, which dates from the Norman period and received its present appearance in the 13th century, watches over the town on a hill.
Picturesque ruins on the River Wye
Among graceful hills between England and Wales stands one of the most beautiful ruins of the British Isles: Tintern Abbey on the west banks of the meandering river Wye. The abbey was founded in 1131 by Cistercian monks. After the dissolution of the order under Henry VIII., the abbey fell into disrepair. Its picturesque remnants have inspired famous landscape painters such as William Turner. Nearby is Caerwent, the most important and best preserved Roman city in Wales.
Crooked half-timbered houses and a mighty castle
Just before Birmingham lies Warwick, dominated by its defiant fortress, Warwick Castle. In the old town of the approximately 1,000 year old town many antique shops can be found in the Tudor houses. In the chapel rests Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who died in Rouen in 1439. The sarcophagus is made of marble from the Purbeck Hills and is covered with a life-size copper image of the earl. Tolkien, who married in Warwick, is said to have been inspired by the crooked houses when writing his novel, The Lord of the Rings.