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Shrewsbury is an important regional centre in a large meander of the River Severn in the heart of the county of Shropshire, in western-central England near the border with Wales.
There is a great deal to commend the town to visitors, above all its largely intact medieval centre which features a large number of historic buildings, including some very attractive medieval and half-timbered houses, and other monuments of interest such as Shrewsbury Abbey and Shrewsbury Castle.
Much of the original street layout is unchanged and there are lots of alleys and passageways to add interest to a visit - be sure to explore because it is in these streets that you will discover the best of Shrewsbury, and many small traditional shops and restaurants. In the local lingo these passages are called 'shuts'. There are also a couple of more modern shopping centres in the town, so all needs are catered for.
A couple of the highlights include the original market hall in the centre of the town, with an open-arcaded ground floor where market traders could carry out their business with some protection from the elements (there is also a more recent brick market hall and clocktower nearby); the building containing Shrewsbury library, with statues decorating the facade; and the 19th century Music hall, now home to the Shrewsbury Visitor Information Centre.
Another fine half-timbered building now houses the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, which relates the history of the town and region.
Several churches scattered around the town are also of interest, including (in the centre) the Church of Saint Alkmund and the Church of Saint Julian; Shrewsbury Cathedral, a 19th century building with some nice stained glass windows; and the Church of Saint Mary.
An extensive public park and garden area next to the river and called 'the quarry' (it is on the site of a quarry) is a lovely place to relax and escape from the bustle of the town centre - and also contains a myriad of flowers, above all if you can visit in late spring / early summer. You can also take a pleasant boat trip along the River Severn from here.
Shrewsbury Castle: The first thing that strikes you about the castle is its unusual colour - it is built in red sandstone. Parts of the original 11th century Norman castle remain although much of what we see today is additions and modifications made in the following centuries, including a major overhaul of the interior at the end of the 18th century to turn the castle into a comfortable residence. The castle is now home to the Shropshire Regimental Museum Trust and an extensive collection related to the history of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry regiment dating back more than 200 years.
Shrewsbury Abbey: a benedict monastery founded at the end of the 11th century, the abbey is also built in the local red sandstone. Despite damage and ruin following the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII, and subsequent demolition for town expansion works, the abbey church can still be seen in Shrewsbury (and is still an active church) - although the tower is 14th century. The pulpit from the refectory of the original abbey can also be seen in a garden area just across from the abbey. Look at the clock on the church when you visit, see if you notice anything unusual about the numbers used...)
Note: Charles Darwin was born and raised in Shrewsbury.
Places to visit near Shrewsbury
Among the local highlights, try and find time to visit the stately home and parkland at Attingham Park, a grand 18th century mansion, and the remains of the Roman town at Wroxeter, at one time among the largest cities in Britain.