UNESCO World Heritage sites

From romantic orangeries to sooty relics of the industrial age, these UNESCO World Heritage sites reveal the UK's architectural history to be both diverse and uncompromising.


Big Pit: National Coal Museum

  • Gwent
  • Free to all

This ex-coal pit is now Wales’ national coal museum, serving as a reminder of the country’s most famous heavy industry. Underground tours are led by former miners, who tell the story of one of the world’s oldest energy sources. The museum deals with all aspects of mining, including strikes, disasters and day to day life in rural mining communities.


National Maritime Museum

This glorious waterfront and London outpost was once the centre of naval, scientific and artistic endeavour during the 17th and 18th centuries. With buildings designed by Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmore and Inigo Jones, together with a Royal Park landscaped by André Le Nôtre, it offers the most outstanding group of Baroque buildings in England.


Ironbridge Gorge

One of the most famous relics of the Industrial Revolution, Ironbridge Gorge sits as a testament to the explosion of development that occurred in the 18th century. Covering an area of 5.5 km in the Severn Valley, it boasts the first bridge ever to be built from iron, together with blast furnaces and cottages that housed the local community.


Blenheim Palace

Designed by the architect John Vanbrugh, this romantic palace was presented to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, by a grateful nation in honour of his victory over the French and Bavarian troops in 1704. With gardens landscaped by the great ‘Capability’ Brown and an art collection to rival that of the National Gallery, it is well worth the trip to Woodstock.


HM Tower of London

The great Norman stronghold is one of the most famous landmarks in London, hugging the river Thames on the north side. It was originally built as a symbol of supremacy after the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century, but soon became a potent image of royal power. Considered one of the most innovative castles in Europe, it is remembered today as an insalubrious prison for disgraced figures during the 16th and 17th centuries.


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Sequestered in south-west London, this magnificent botanic garden is home to one of the most important collections of plants in the world. Created in 1759, under the directorship of Joseph Banks, the gardens boast ornamental lakes, follies and the famous Palm House and Temperate House, innovative constructions that continue to inspire the style of conservatories all over the world.

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