If we hear the word UNESCO World Heritage Sites in England, generally, what comes to our mind is Stonehenge or the Westminster Building in London. These two sites have indeed become icons of British tourism that we often see in many media.
In Great Britain alone, there are actually 31 UNESCO world heritage sites, 18 of which are in England, five in Scotland, three in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the rest are in the overseas territories of England. My writing will describe seven world heritage sites in the UK that you should not miss if you visit, live, or study in the UK, of course, according to my version.
Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast: From giant tales to geological phenomena
1. Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast: From giant tales to geological phenomena
“Be it causeway made by the Irish giant, be it a natural phenomenon, ladies and gentlemen, the Giant’s Causeway!
When I arrived alone in the autumn of 2017, an Irish tour guide excitedly said this to the foreign tourists he was taken by bus from Dublin.
As the only world heritage site in Northern Ireland, this site is the most frequently visited because it can be reached from Belfast, with only two hours by bus.
Giant’s Causeway or “Giant Canal” is located on the northern coast of Northern Ireland, or the so-called Causeway Coast, which is often referred to as the most beautiful coastal road on the entire island of Ireland. This site is also one of the first sites in the UK to be named UNESCO World Heritage Site, namely in 1986.
The site is known for its 40,000 hexagon-shaped basalts (hexagon) column columns arranged neatly on the beach. Geological research says that the stone columns were formed by lava that was frozen 60 million years ago.
However, ancient Irish tales say that the stone columns were former stone bridges created by an Irish giant named Finn McCool, who was said to have connected Ireland with Scotland. From that fairy tale, the title Giant’s Causeway originated. Whether it is a giant artificial bridge or a geological phenomenon, you must check it yourself to determine it.
2. Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd: See the origin of the title “Prince of Wales” and the union of Wales into the United Kingdom
“To be born in Wales, Not with a silver spoon in your mouth,
but, with music in your blood
And with poetry in your soul, “
With its small territory, Wales has the highest number of castles per kilometer in the world with 641 castles. No wonder Wales is nicknamed “the capital of the world castle”. Of that number, four castles in northern Wales are world heritage sites. The four castles were built by King Edward I of England, shortly after he conquered Wales in 1282 and killed Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last prince of Wales.
He made the castles as a defense against Wales rebels who wanted independence from England, as well as to strengthen British colonization in Wales. I, who like castle tales with dragons and princesses who are locked up in dungeons, are very fortunate to be able to visit the four castles located in Conwy, Caernarfon, Beaumaris, and Harlech. The four castles made by King Edward I were predicted as a masterpiece of 13th-century military architecture.
One of the four castles, Caernarfon Castle, was also the beginning of the title “Prince of Wales” to the crown prince of the United Kingdom. The title, which is currently held by Prince Charles actually before the conquest of Wales in 1282 by England, held by the people of Wales, where Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was the last Prince of Wales who was truly a native of Wales.
King Edward, who conquered Wales, then gave the title “Prince of Wales” to his son, Edward II, who later became the next king of England. Since then, the title of Prince of Wales was given to the first child of the king or queen of England, who is also the son crown, while his wife’s title is Princess of Wales.
Despite centuries of being part of England, Welsh people today remain proud of their culture, language (Welsh is different from English), and natural beauty. The castles in Wales add to the romance and poetic value of this British state. Just like Brian Harris’s poem above.
3. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal: Masterpieces of World Civil Engineering
What makes this 18-kilometer long steel aqueduct (canal bridge) and canal in north Wales unique? The answer is because this site is the highest channel aqueduct in the world, and is a masterpiece of genius engineer Thomas Telford. He is known for other civil engineering projects in Great Britain, such as the Menai Bridge steel suspension bridge and the Caledonia Canal, which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.
Canals as high as 38 meters and built-in ten years (1795-1805). These were built during the industrial revolution and were built on difficult terrain to create a trade route between north Wales that is rich in natural resources with the port of Liverpool.
Walking across this bridge is a unique experience for me, especially if I’m afraid of heights. The path for pedestrians is only enough for two people. Meanwhile, on our right side, there is a water canal that can be passed by a small passenger boat. What is unique is that when it reaches the middle, tens of meters below us, there is a flowing river, which means the channel is above the river.
The genius of Thomas Telford built the Pontcysllte aqueduct and canals, as well as other works throughout England, which earned him the nickname “the man who built the Britain.” He proves his own words that by working (to act), then someone will know who he is.