The port city of Southampton, founded by the Romans, is located on England's south coast. It currently has around 270.000 inhabitants. In the Middle Ages its port was the most important in England. After a period of weakness, Southampton saw growth and prosperity again in the 19th century.
Southampton - Harbor View
Little remains of the splendor of the past. Southampton's historic old town was almost completely destroyed in World War II. Only a few historical buildings survived the bombing.
Not least because of this, Southampton is less interesting from a tourist point of view than the neighboring town of Winchester or the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, 33 miles away. Even a bus trip to London can be comfortably accomplished in a maximum of 2 ½ hours travel time each way. And yet Southampton has a lot to offer.
Attractions in Southampton
City walls and the Bargate Memorial
The fortification of the city began after the city was founded. The first bulwarks were earth walls and moats. Walls were added later.
Southampton - Bargate Memorial - Front
A relic from the time of the Normans is the Bargate gatehouse, built around 1180, with the associated city walls. A good 100 years later, two round towers were added to the building; even later the roof area received an alarm bell. The upper level of the two-story building is adorned in the middle with a statue of George III dressed in a Roman toga. Between 1760 and 1801 he was King of Great Britain and Ireland. The upper floor of the building has been used for art exhibitions since 2006. The city walls originally attached to the city gate were torn down after 1930 for the purpose of better traffic management.
Southampton - Bargate Memorial - back side
In the late 12th century, a royal castle stood where a modern 14-story building rises up in the center; in front of it lay a stone defensive wall. This fortification was more than nine meters high. The remains of the former Castle Gate and fragments of the city wall stand on Castle Lane. A longer, well-preserved section of the city wall runs south of Southampton Central station along the Western Esplanade.
Museums and galleries
Southampton has several museums. Of interest are:
Museum of Archeology
It is housed in God's House Tower, a defense tower from the 15th century. Objects from Roman times and medieval city models are exhibited in the museum.
Medieval Merchants House
In a merchant's house from 1290, the everyday life of a middle-class family from the late Middle Ages is shown.
It offers its visitors a permanent Titanic exhibition: from Southampton the Titanic set out on its only fateful crossing of the Atlantic. Other themed, periodic exhibitions deal with the history of the city and its port.
Southampton - SeaCity Museum
The Solent Sky Museum
Spitfire fighters were built in Southampton during World War II. So it made sense to set up an aviation museum with 18 seaplanes, helicopters and the legendary Spitfire.
It can be found on Albert Road South near the cruise terminals.
Tudor House Museum
Life in Victorian times is recreated in a half-timbered house built in 1495. Styles from the 16th to 19th centuries are presented.
The most striking buildings in Southampton include the SeaCity Museum, the Guildhall, the City Art Gallery, the public library and the City Hall. The public facilities are located in a building complex south of Watts Park.
The SeaCity Museum uses the west wing of the ensemble of buildings. A tall clock tower rises next to the museum. It is popularly called Kimber's Chimney after a former mayor.
Southampton - the clock tower
Southampton's Guildhall is in the east wing. The building, completed in 1937, is a multifunctional event location consisting of three areas. The extensive Guildhall Square extends in front of the hall.
Southampton - the Guildhall
The north wing is used by the City Art Gallery and the city library.
To the south, the administrative areas of Southampton Council and The Civic Center complete the building complex.
Southampton Council and Civic Center
The Old Court House is a successful example of Victorian architecture. The neighboring house is also of interest. The British writer Jane Austen lived there for a while at the beginning of the 19th century. The Juniper Berry pub is only a few meters away.
Address 1, Castle Lane, next to Castle Gate
Southampton - The old Court House on Castle Street
Southampton claims to be one of the UK's greenest cities. More than 50 parks and green spaces of all sizes are open to visitors.
East Park / Andrews Park
In the wide gardens of East Park, trees, bushes, rose beds, herb beds, spring and summer flowers, ferns and bamboo are skillfully mixed according to the rules of Victorian garden culture. - The Titanic Engineers Memorial is an eye-catcher. It pays tribute to the Titanic's officers who persevered in their places and lost their lives in the face of the disaster.
The gardens of Palmerston, Houndwell and Hoglands Park are no less beautiful.
Watts Park / West Park
Watts Park is north of the Southampton City Art Gallery and the Central Library. The name of the park is derived from the statue of Isaac Watts. It occupies a central position in the park. The philosopher and hymn writer was born in Southampton in 1674. - In the eastern part of the garden, the dead of the First World War (Great War) and the Second World War are commemorated with simple and depressing memorials. Motto from the book of the preachers: "Their Name liveth for evermore".
Another notable work of art in the park is the sculpture Enclosure by the Canadian-born artist Paul De Monchaux. The four-meter-high plant has been in West Park since 2000. It is said to be focused on four landmarks in and around the park.
Southampton - West Park - Sculpture Enclosure
Streets - QE2 Mile
The QE2 Mile is a pedestrian zone running through the city center. It starts at the parks at the level of the Civic Center and Southampton Solent University and ends at Watergate near the harbor. High Street and Above Bar Street are included. Typical restaurants along the way such as Frog and Parrot, beautiful half-timbered houses and historic commercial buildings, the Bargate Memorial and more. The QE2 Mile was named after the famous liner Queen Elizabeth II, whose home port was Southampton between 1967 and 2008. The ship has been in the port of Dubai for several years. There it is used as a hotel.
Southampton - the QE2 Mile
Attractions outside of Southampton
The prehistoric monument of Stonehenge
Arguably one of the continent's most significant attractions is 33 miles northwest of Southampton. What is meant is the legendary cult and burial site of Stonehenge. Around 3000 BC BC people began to set up the huge stones.
Those who do not book a bus tour to Stonehenge offered on the cruise ship can go to Southampton's Central Station and buy a ticket to Salisbury. From there the Stonehenge buses run every hour to Amesbury to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bus passengers are guided past the queue by the driver, which saves them waiting times.
We recommend buying a combination ticket for Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. Visit the Anglican Cathedral on your way back to Southampton. Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest steeple in Great Britain. It is 123 meters high.
We associate two terms with Winchester, which has a population of almost 50.000. One is the self-loading rifles built under this name. The other is the catchy tune Winchester Cathedral.
But not only the second longest cathedral in Europe attracts many visitors to Winchester, 13 miles from Southampton. If you want to see King Arthur at the round table in the Great Hall of Castle and many historical buildings, you will find it in Winchester.
Winchester - the King Arthur table
The National Express bus, which runs to and from London, takes guests from cruise ships to the former capital of England in less than half an hour.
For more information on Southampton and Winchester, see A day in Southampton and Winchester.
Update November 2020