Impressive, amazingly well preserved medieval castle is dominating the panorama of Castletown.
Its origins can be traced back to Norse Kings of Mann, who fortified this strategic site in order to protect the entrance to the Silverburn River from the sea.
Central stone tower is the oldest, surrounded by courtyard, which was later surrounded with yet another defence wall.
Inside the castle there is a museum presenting the story of the castle, its inhabitants, rulers and the whole island.
It was the seat of Kings and Lords of Mann through centuries, and even in recent history it served as a symbol of power - being used as a prison.
Douglas is the capital of the Isle of Man.
Arriving by ferry I saw it appear on the horizon, the long row of mostly white houses and the promenade. The promenade was built towards the end of 19th century, in Victorian times. To make getting from one end to the other easier, the horse tram was introduced. ( see transportation tip).
Today mostly hotels are on this long promenade. I heard it's about 2.5 km from the sea terminal to the electric railway. Even though I don't know if this is the exact distance, it is quite a walk. But a very pleasant one, along the sea and the beach.Just be careful not to step onto the bike lane, as the cyclists seem to appear out of nowhere and are really fast.
Across the street from the beach, there are flowerbeds and the flowers are often grown to form pictures.
At the sea terminal end there is the Jubilee Clock, put up in 1887 to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.
If you are staying in Douglas, this is the first place you should visit, to get a broad overview over history, way of life and monuments on the Isle of Man.
Many interesting arcaeological exhibits, from minerals and skeletons to postcards and modern artefacts.
Since I was determined to visit many museums and historic locations, I decided to become a member of Manx National Heritage to save on entrance fees. You can do that here at the reception desk.
This is one of the best museums I've ever vsiited, and my kids were enjoying it very much, too.
It presents Celtic, Viking and Maritime traditions of the island, through high-tech suported installations. You are walking from one room to another, and follow the stories presented through sound, video, robotized dummies and even scents that are released into rooms - while visiting the exhibit that depicts kipper factory, the smell is ... authentic!
The House of Manannan Museum was declared British Museum of The Year twice.
Some displays at the museum are very amusing. The one depicting the last King of Mann enjoying his dinner was really impressive. There was even a cat sleeping on the bench, and it looked so real. The guide told me that's because he IS real - Goudrum is probably the most famous Manx cat, spending one of his lives as a star of this castle. He couldn't be bothered. What a character. He gets lost sometimes, but people know him so well, they bring him back to the castle.
This high class cat has obviously chosen the bench by the feast table for his favorite place to have a nap!
Look at him posing at the official Castle Rushen website:
Peel Castle is one of major historical sights of the Isle of Man. Located on St. Patric's Isle near Peel, even though it is a ruin, it certainly is an impressive one. It used to be the most important religious and secular place throughout Manx history, especially in 6th century during conflicts between Manx Christians and Vikings.
Unfortunatelly, after the Sovereignty of the English Crown was ensured in 1765, the castle was loosing it's importance and was left to decay.
After visiting Peel Castle, take a walk to the nearby rocky shore, you'll probably meet some seals. They are actually very interested in observing humans - so they act like tourists just like you do.
The Cregneash village is a living monument which depicts the way people lived here in 19th century. You can observe local customs, crafts and daily life of those times, and you may even see famous Manx cats here.
This village is also working on preservation of traditional farming practices and skills - horse-drawn farming tools, wood processing, weaving and spinning, blacksmith's work - all for real, with purpose.
This small island is located off the south-western tip of the Isle of Man. It is a home to numerous seabird colonies, and of course there is a bird observatory. Actually, the whole island is a bird sanctuary.
I sat on a bench talking to my friend for almost two hours - the view is truly woneful, especially if you love the sea, crashing waves, seals, seabirds, ships ...
Queen Victoria seems to have been quite popular in Douglas. There is a Victoria Street in the downtown area and also a statue of her. It took me some time to find this statue, even though I knew more or less where it was supposed to be. I just didn't see it!
Only when I sitting on the upper deck in a bus did I finally see it, it's high above street level, in the corner of a building.
Directly on the way to Douglas harbour there are some rocks. High tides hid these rocks just below the water surface, causing many shipwrecks.
In 19th century the Tower of Refuge was built on those rocks. Now they could be seen even in high tide and the ships no longer crashed into them. The name is by the poet Wordsworth. He had written a poem titled " In the Channel between Cumberland and the Isle of Man", from which these lines were taken to name the new building on the rocks:
A Tower of refuge built for the else forlorn.
Spare it, ye waves, and lift the mariner,
Struggling for life., into its saving arms!
Castletown used to be the capital of the Isle of Man until 1862, something which can easily be believed when you see the huge castle.
Coming from the train station you turn right and walk towards the harbour, Castle Rushen is right in front of you.This building from the 13th century dominates the small town.
There is a beautiful garden attached to it, with an old clock next to the entrance, several benches to sit down and rest and a part called the Speaker's Garden. So far I haven't been able to find out what this means, something like Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park maybe?
Ramsey in the north of the island is the second largest town. It was, however, very quiet when we strolled through the centre on a Sunday afternoon. I saw a tall,blue pillar on a square, with a sort of case locked by a padlock. I've been wondering ever since what this could be. Lately I thought maybe it was a special postbox and I just didn't recognize it as such.
But apart from this mysterious pillar Ramsey has a very nice beach and a beautiful park.There is a large lake inside the park, a playground next to it and a café. Many people were enjoying their afternoon there.
On our way to Ramsey we passed through purple meadows, the heather was already blooming and had coloured large areas. Occasionally we could see some white spots, sheep.
Named also "Lady Isabella", after the wife of former governor of the IOM, it is now the largest still functioning wheel of this kind in the world.
The 22m diameter wheel was designed by Victorian engineer R. Casement and built in 1854 to pump water from the Glen Mooar industrial complex.
It was purchased from private owners by Manx Government in 1965. and was completely restored, together with the surrounding area. Climb up the steep stairs and enjoy the view over picturesque village and towards the sea.
Mind your head in certain odd corners - warning signs are well visible.
Behind the Market Square there is the old Grammar School, a small, white building close to the sea. It was built as a chapel in 13th century, but from 18th century on has served as a school. In 1930 the last pupils were taught there and the interior has been left as it used to be. Instead of exercise books the pupils wrote on sand, saving a lot of money on school equipment.
Today it's a museum, entrance is free, with a nice gift shop and a very friendly attendant.
The Villa Marina on the promenade is an entertainment complex, but also boasts of a beautiful garden. Near the entrance there is a waterfall, then some flowerbeds and finally a lawn with old trees. A wedding was being celebrated when I was there, it was fun to watch the children running around and playing, and not caring at all about the beautiful dresses/suits they had to wear.
1 Empire Terrace, Douglas, IM2 4LE, United Kingdom
Good for: Solo
Athol Park, Port Erin, United Kingdom
Good for: Couples
Stayed here with grown-up family and it met our needs perfectly. Easy walk to airport and only 20...more