With the majestic Castle Cornet as a starting point, and a coastline that’s dotted with forts, Guernsey is abundant with architectural sites that reflect the island’s rich history. Take a look inside Guernsey’s most impressive landmarks to discover each one’s own unique story, while staying at The Old Government House Hotel & Spa or The Duke of Richmond in the harbour town of St Peter Port.
St Peter Port
Just a short walk from the centre of this harbour town, Castle Cornet is the first stop for many visitors to the island. And it has a remarkably rich history, having stood guard over the port for almost 800 years. Gain an insight into this history by spending an afternoon at the castle’s five museums, taking a guided tour, and seeing the stories brought to life through historical re-enactments. Special events take place throughout the year, too. One highlight is the Channel Island Heritage Festival (25th March – 10th May 2016), in which the island’s heritage sites are the atmospheric settings for activities and performances.
Set on a hill overlooking St Sampson’s harbour, Vale Castle offers sweeping sea views, but it’s the site’s long and fascinating past that truly has people captivated, with earthwork dating back as far as the early Iron Age and a stone structure from the 15th century. The castle was a military base for a staggering two thousand years and it’s still possible to see evidence of this early use, as well as its WWII occupation. Wander between the ancient stone walls and imagine how life at the castle would have once been.
Situated along a footpath from Ivy Castle Lane, Chateau des Marais is often referred to as Ivy Castle due to its covering of ivy. This old stone structure is believed to have been built in the 13th century, before being fortified in the 18th century and then occupied in WWII, when a bunker was built within the walls.
The Guernsey Forts
As one of a network of structures built to protect the island from French invasion, Fort Doyle sits on the island’s northern shore and originates from the early 19th century. Here visitors can see where the cannons would have been, and take the time to soak up the beauty of this coastline.
Another of the forts that’s especially worth visiting is Fort Grey. Built in 1804 to protect the island’s west coast, this tower now houses the Shipwreck Museum, which recounts the tales of countless wrecks that have occurred along this stretch of coastline.
Many visitors to the island choose to see a number of forts in a day by hiking along the coastline and stopping at each one they come to. Visit Guernsey hosts a series of guided walks, making it easier to take in all of the sites.
Whether you choose to take a guided tour or explore independently, at the end of your day return to the comfort of The Old Government House Hotel & Spa or The Duke of Richmond for a well deserved rest in luxurious surroundings. One of the cannons at Castle Cornet © Visit Guernsey.
Image credits: Cover photo of Castle Cornet © Visit Guernsey. A view across the harbour of Castle Cornet © Visit Guernsey. The Channel Island Heritage Festival at Castle Cornet © Visit Guernsey. Fort Doyle © Visit Guernsey. The Shipwreck Museum at Fort Grey © Visit Guernsey.