Durham Cathedral is considered one of the best examples of Norman architecture in Europe. Built over 40 years from 1093, it is the only British Cathedral retaining all of its Norman features. In 2001, a national poll run by BBC voted the Cathedral as Britain's best loved building. There is no charge to enter the Cathedral, although visitors are asked to make a donation for its upkeep. Private areas of the Cathedral such as the tower and dormitory do make a small charge.
One of the main reasons for the building of Durham Cathedral, was to house the body and shrine of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (Holy Island), whose coffin was moved from the island to protect it from invading Scots. Reports from the time (1104, which was 418 years after Cuthbert's death) state that Cuthbert's body was intact, as if he were only sleeping.
Today visitors can see his cross and his coffin. The Venerable St Bede is also buried at Durham Cathedral, and pilgrims still come to visit the tombs of both saints, just as they did over 900 years ago.
The massive Norman tower which dominates Durham City offers stunning views. Visitors can climb the tower, and see for miles on a clear day.
In what was originally the monks' dormitory, part of the Cathedral's library is now housed. This is where the monks slept in the Middle Ages, and retains its original hammer-beam oak roof. The library can be used by prior arrangement.
Permanent exhibitions include information about how such a vast and elaborate building was constructed in the 12th century, and a digital display of the story of St Cuthbert.
Durham Cathedral has its own restaurant which won a Taste of Durham award for 2010. It serves snacks and meals, and sources local ingredients and products.
Visitors can purchase a souvenir or book from the bookshop, which specialises in religious books.
Due to the age of the building there are areas that are inaccessible for prams and wheelchairs. Guides and vergers are pleased to assist visitors if they can.
Durham Cathedral is in Durham City Centre, so is accessible by car, train and bus.
The Chapter Office,
Tel: 0191 386 4266