The next morning I drove north to Durham, to visit its famous Cathedral (completed 1133). I had heard that Durham Cathedral was a great example of Norman architecture, built for both religious and defensive purposes. The design of this Cathedral is a cross between Romanesque architecture and Gothic. It has a typical Gothic-like three isle nave, with a cross rib vaulted ceiling, but the pillars are much heavier (with interesting decorations), and the side isle arches are rounded— more like other Romanesque-era churches. Be sure to check out the arch stone work in the Galilee Chapel. The Cathedral overlooks the River Wear and I recommend going for a short walk along the river to get a good view of the Cathedral, and enjoying the peaceful river setting.
Durham Castle is right next door, but since it is part of Durham University, and classes were in session, a tour was required and I did not take the time to wait for the tour.
Alnwick (“Ahn-ick”) Castle
Although I have not read the Harry Potter books, I had heard that this castle was used for scenes from the first movie (during the Quidditch game). What a classic castle. It is the second largest inhabited castle in England (dates from 1309, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland) and has been well maintained. It sits on a large green estate on the edge of Alnwick town, overlooking the River Aln and valley. The landscape surrounding Alnwick Castle is some of the prettiest I’ve seen in England.