Plymouth

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Plymouth — England

Plymouth is a large coastal city in Devon between the rivers Plym and Tamar at the point where the two rivers join at Plymouth Sound; their location being in close proximity to Cornwall. Known as "the three towns", Plymouth, Devonport and East Stonehouse were merged in 1914 as the Borough of Plymouth and in 1928 they were granted city status. Today Plymouth is acknowledged by most to be the cultural centre of the South West.

The history of the area begins in the Bronze Age when a trading post developed for the Roman Empire; however, their fossil heritage discovered at the very beginning of the 19th Century has uncovered bone caves of ancient Homo Sapiens that are at least 140,000 years old. This remarkable discovery is one of the most important finds in Europe. Several more caves have been unearthed with ancient fossils in Plymouth which adds to this unique discovery. Some of the finds have been sent to the Natural History Museum for repair and to the Plymouth City Museum. In keeping with its being a cultural centre, the City Museum is only one of a number of museums in Plymouth, with the 16th century Elizabethan House being a popular destination. There are also a number of educational facilities including the University of Plymouth whose archaeology department has taken an interest in supporting the preservation of the bone caves.

In regard to the architectural heritage of the city, there are still a number of intact buildings, as well as areas that were not demolished in the Plymouth Blitz during the World War Two. As a maritime city, the Royal Navy was stationed here making Plymouth vulnerable in those years. There are still vestiges of military in the area, with the Royal Citadel being home to a Royal Artillery Regiment today. Plymouth has been an important maritime city for centuries, and it was from here that Sir Francis Drake sailed to meet the Spanish Armada. An interesting legend is that Sir Francis Drake refused to leave his game of bowls to set sail until he finished his game (while waiting for the tides change).

The game of bowls was played in the Hoe, an Anglo-Saxon word indicating a rise in the landscape. Today the Hoe still offers one of several of the large green spaces in this cosmopolitan city. Here you will also find Smeaton's Tower built in 1759, a lighthouse that was constructed on a reef and moved stone by stone to the Hoe where it was rebuilt. Not far from the Hoe is the National Marine Aquarium with exhibits to astound young and old. Or visit the 16th century Merchants House in the famous Barbican where artists and antique dealers congregate. Or the historic Mayflower Steps where the pilgrims set sail for America to found a new life. The Barbican history is multi-faceted, from famous sailings from its harbours to Napoleon being brought here prior to being shipped to his island exile. Plymouth is a city with much to see and do, whether theatre-going, cinema, art galleries, visiting museums, or taking a ferry across the Plymouth Sound. One can step back into pre-history, Roman times, medieval times or just enjoy the present.

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