Salisbury is located on the Reiver Avon to the south-east of the county of Wiltshire - it is the only 'city' in Wiltshire.
Both Salisbury and its most famous monument, the cathedral, date from 1220 at which time a decision was made to create a new town. The new town was planned to follow a grid layout and to be entered via gateways through defensive walls - these can still be seen today.
Seven years later the town started to hold a weekly market, a tradition that continues to today with Salisbury having two markets a week (Saturday and Tuesday) in Market Place in the centre of the old town. The decorative structure with a cross on top in the market place dates from the 15th century (although the stone supporting structures were added in the 19th century) and is called Poultry Cross - at one time it designated the secton of the market where poultry was sold. Other crosses originally existed for the other trades carried out in the market but have long since disappeared.
Salisbury Market Place is also the starting point for your visit to the city centre and to explore the narrow streets and alleys, often lined with historic and half-timbered houses, and to enjoy the shops, cafes and pubs of the town centre, with a good choice available both around the square itself and in the surrounding streets (mostly in the region between Market Place and the Cathedral, in a part of Salisbury that is partly pedestrianised.
Facing the decorative western side of the cathedral is Salisbury Cathedral Close, with an impressive range of 15th-16th century buildings, at one time forming part of the cathedral's 'outbuildings'. These include the Kings House, an attractive 15th century building now home to the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, including exhibits relating to Stonehenge.
First take some time to admire the numerous statues incorporated into the decorative west front of Salisbury cathedral, and to appreciate the spire which is the tallest of any church in the UK - a fine achievement best appreciated if you take a tour that passes up inside the structure of the tower.
The cathedral is also well known for having the oldest functional mechanical clock in Britain, dating from 1386, although the 'clock' has no face or dial so perhaps is slightly less exciting than you might expect...clocks of that period were designed to ring a bell each hour, not to 'tell the time'. Don't miss another great highlight of the cethedral - it's cloisters. These are large and consist of a series of stone columns supporting the decorative stonework in the arches above.
Other attractions close to Salisbury
Much the most well known attraction near to Salisbury, and largely the reason why so many people visit the town, is the prehistoric stone circle at Stonehenge.
The National Trust opertaed Stourhead House and Garden is another very popular excursion from Salisbury - both for the grand mansion itself, and for the gardens and parkland, carefully laid out in the 18th century to include temples, follies and a large lake.
Map of Salisbury and places to visit
Salisbury places to visit
See more places nearby in the Wiltshire guide