I live in a small town with not-so-great amenities, so when I fancy a good old Boots haul I have to either shop in London or travel to another local town. I’m not too keen on neighbouring Essex places, so when my work colleague suggested St Albans for a day trip, I thought – why not?
Unlike in many other towns and cities, the high street in St Albans is thriving. I enjoy windows shopping there and grabbing a bite to eat from one of the market stalls. The market is lively and popular, but one can’t really see the handsome buildings properly because the stalls are blocking the view.
The main attraction of St Albans however is it’s cathedral: once a powerful Benedictine Abbey. The building is magnificent as well as unique. It was built with bricks and stone from the ruins of the Roman Verulamium and and in terms of architecture, it’s both Norman and neo-gothic, the latter added by the Victorians. I am non-religious, but I do admire a great looking church when I see one, and St Albans is one of the most impressive I have been to. It is currently an ecumenical church, welcoming Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox worshippers – a rather practical approach I’d say!
The cathedral offers free, very interesting guided tours and has a decent looking cafe (I have not been myself) and a nice shop, plus there is a display near the entrance telling the storyline which dates back to Alban’s martyrdom around 300 AC. Isn’t it incredible that in modern day UK we can visit somewhere with 1700 years of history ?
There is so much beauty here: medieval wall paintings, a true rarity in this country; stunning Norman arches and elaborate ceilings, amazing woodwork and lovingly restored shrines. Even the floor tiles are beautiful.
I’m hoping to get a better look at the historical part of the city on a market – free day, when hopefully crowds are smaller.