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Glastonbury is located in the county of Somerset, to the south of Wells (and Bristol).
The town is best known for the annual Glastonbury Festival and also its association with 'new-age' living, but also has a traditional country town centre and several interesting monuments and attractions of interest to visitors.
The most important monument is Glastonbury Abbey, a very important 11th century monastery that continued to be a major local religious and pilgrimage centre until 1539, when the monastaries were all closed down under orders of King Henry VIII. At one time among the richest monasteries in England, we can now visit the substantial ruins that remain of both the Abbey Church and associated buildings, and stroll in the associated parkland that surrounds the ruins.
Just outside the abbey grounds, the original barn from the abbey has now been converted into the Somerset Rural Life Museum. Other interesting buildings at Glastonbury include the George Hotel and Pilgrim's Inn, a 15th century building with an impressive facade of carved stone around the windows. Visit the Glastonbury visitor information centre in the High Street for details of other local highlights or to arrange a guided tour of the town.
Glastonbury is a place for legends, and has been since at least the 12th century when it was claimed that the graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinivere had been discovered here on the site of the abbey. Associations with Avalon, the island in the Arthurian tales, are also claimed for Glastonbury.
Glastonbury Tor, the hill that overlooks the town and bears the ruins of Saint Michael's Church, provides an impressive backdrop for the town - and is also the stuff of legends, being the site of the claimed entrance to Avalon, and a possible location for the Holy Grail. The reason for the terraces that ring the hill has also not been explained, although agriculture or a defensive role are most plausible. Whatever the legends associated with Glastonbury Tor, the hill has certainly been occupied since pre-Roman times and it is a pleasant walk to reach it while speculating on what might or might not have taken place here in previous centuries...
Below the Tor you can see the Chalice Well, a very ancient well and water source attributed healing powers and now set in the attractive 'Peace Garden' along with associated water features and the Lions Head fountain, where you can enjoy the water yourself. this being Glastonbury, the chalice well is also linked to legend, being claimed as the site where Saint Joseph placed a chalice containing blood from Christ's crucifixion (making Glastonbury the earliest Christian settlement in Britain).
Central Glastonbury has a good selection of shops, although these also tend to be rather 'new-age' rather than conventional shops...
Map of Glastonbury and places to visit
Glastonbury places to visit
See more places nearby in the Somerset guide