The Norwich Cathedral.

The Norwich Cathedral. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

The Norwich Cathedral.

The Norwich Cathedral. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

A statue at the front door of Norwich Cathedral.

A statue at the front door of Norwich Cathedral. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

A stained-glass window at Norwich Cathedral.

A stained-glass window at Norwich Cathedral. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

NORWICH — Thirty years after the 1066 invasion of the Normans, builders laid the foundation for what is now one of the oldest and most revered structures in all of East Anglia.

Nearly 50 years later, laborers laid the final stones to complete the stunning Norwich Cathedral, which has since stood as one of the most impressive houses of worship in Britain.

Stunning spires that stretch 315 feet into the Norwich skyline have served as a beacon for the spiritually inclined as well as the geographically wayward in the otherwise flat East Anglia landscape.

Like so many ancient British structures, the cathedral has seen more than its fair share of troubles, ranging from fires that twice destroyed the roof in its first 250 years, lightning that struck a spire and at least one bloody insurrection that destroyed architecturally significant portions of the cathedral.

Yet despite the damage, the cathedral today stands as a testament to medieval English engineering and construction with what are considered some of the most impressive cloisters in all of Europe as well as spectacular stained-glass windows that highlight a handful of the Bible’s seminal moments.

Twelve years ago, the cathedral celebrated its 900th birthday with a gala that drew thousands of visitors from across the isle, and, on the eve of the millennium celebration, Norwich residents voted the cathedral the city’s most beloved building.

Today, visitors can enter the cathedral free of charge and stand in awe of the spiritual zeal that prompted a building of such epic proportions. A visit on a quiet weekday means guests can wander the building undisturbed, save the odd volunteer setting up for the next service.

Flying buttresses the likes of which were abandoned decades ago in lieu of cheaper designs support a vaulted ceiling that boggles the mind. Cathedral managers have strategically placed a full-length mirror in the center of the pews so visitors can appreciate the vaulted ceiling without straining their necks.

The cathedral has been maintained to such a high degree that one expects a band of hooded monks in deep incantations led by period-clad knights to march across the aged floors, or for Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon of "The Da Vinci Code" fame to scamper across the grounds with Interpol hot on their tails.

Visitors instead will find a house of serenity where one’s faith in humanity is elevated and one’s belief in the power to achieve greatness is restored.

If you go ...Location: Central Norwich. Follow the A11 north toward Norwich and follow the signs to the city center. There’s convenient parking in several lots near the cathedral.

Hours: Open daily with services on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.


Phone: 01603 218300

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