Chichester has one of the longest histories in English settlement, having been an important town as early as Roman times, when it was known as Noviomagus Reginorum and the civic capital of the region.
Captured by the Anglo-Saxons at the end of the 5th century, Noviomagus Reginorum was renamed Cissa. It was quite a feat as the Walls protecting the city were more than 2 metres thick, which survived until they were replaced by a thinner version during the Georgian period and the 18th century.
Under the Anglo-Saxons, Cissa remained an important city and the capital of the region. What is easily missed today is the importance of Chichester Harbour immediately to the south. Shallow and silted, it lost its value several hundred years ago as a port, but Romans and Anglo-Saxons developed the site as an important trade point.
But it was William the Conqueror who confirmed the importance of Chichester with the decision to establish cathedrals in the major population centres rather than the more isolated locations. The small coastal village of Selsey had from the 6th century been the main Christian focus of the region.
The building of Chichester Cathedral began in 1075 and was completed in 1108.
Today, the city remains the major civil centre of West Sussex. It's a genteel place and what it lacks in major attractions (the cathedral being the obvious exception) more than makes up for in a friendly, easy going place with a number of protected buildings of historical significance.
With its recently established University, it has a large young population, reflected in the culture of the city - ie there's plenty to do! And it is home of Chichester Festival Theatre, one of the most respected regional theatres in England.
And with the various villages of Chichester Harbour, coastal locations such as Selsey and Bognor, the Sussex Downs and any number of important historic towns all within a 20 mile radius, it is the perfect base to explore the area.