Bangor is in every sense a true university town, although it has city status it does have the claim to fame of being the smallest city in the whole of the United Kingdom. This wonderful little city is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty between the majestic Snowdonia Mountains and the sea. The city of Bangor is perched right by the side of the Menai Strait, the body of tidal water that separates the Isle of Anglesey from Bangor and the rest of the Welsh Mainland.
The City Centre
The city was founded when St Deniol, a celtic saint founded the building of the cathedral back in the 6th century, and the name of the city is taken from the old word used to describe the fenced enclosure which at that time would have contained the cathedral building. The cathedral that stands on the site now is slightly more modern and has been continually remodelled and modernised throughout the centuries.
Bangor city centre also has a claim to fame in its own right; having the longest high street in the whole of Wales. The high street is the main shopping district in the town as well as home of the city’s cultural centres, though there are also a further two purpose built shopping centres in the city should you not find what you need on the high street. With this being such a famous university town you can be sure that there are plenty of bars, cafes and entertainment venues that all offer a great evening out.
The original Victorian pier has weathered the centuries well and stands as firm today as it did when it was built. Opened in 1896, the pier extends approximately half way across to the Isle of Anglesey which is approximately 1500ft. Though considering all of the events that have happened around the pier it is a wonder that it is still standing at all. Back in 1943 the SS Christiana broke free from her moorings and crashed straight into the pier structure, yet the pier took the hit in its stride. It was almost demolished in 1971 as it has been neglected and left to wreck and ruin, however after being bought by the local authority, it was restored to its former glory and is now the perfect place for a stroll on a sunny afternoon and makes the perfect spot for the local fishermen to try their luck.
Bangor’s Cathedral and Churches
The local community have been worshipping at Bangor Cathedral for at least fifteen centuries, it is recorded as being the oldest cathedral in the whole of Great Britain. It is believed to have been founded in around 525AD and dedicated to the Celtic saint St Deniol. Of course there is nothing left to see of the original church as it would not have been a stone structure, merely a primitive wattle and daub building offering shelter from the elements. The current building on the site however can be traced back to the 12th century, and whilst it does not match the scale of many other cathedrals in the country it offers plenty of charm in the simplicity of its construction.
Museums and Galleries
Just behind the cathedral you will find the Gwyned Museum and Art Gallery, occasionally referred to locally as the Bangor Museum; this is the only museum in the area that offers general exhibitions and displays. Within the museum you will be able to find examples of traditional Welsh furniture as well as art and textiles. Also on display are some of the archaeological finds of the region. The museum is housed it what used to be the canonry of the cathedral.
With the mountains of Snowdonia so close by there are plenty of opportunities for you to head outdoors; if the hills and mountains are not really your cup of tea there are plenty of walking trails along the coast, as well as cycle routes. The waters of the Menai Straits offer plenty of opportunities for water sports too. Climbing is on offer in the national park as is mountain biking and with the fast flowing rivers found in the area there are opportunities for kayaking and canoeing too.