Looking Down on Portsmouth England

There would be few cities in the world which have a maritime history as significant as that found in Portsmouth, which is located on the south coast of England in the County of Hampshire, just 64 miles (103 km) south west from London.

Portsmouth also has the distinction of being the only island city in the United Kingdom, although the development has been such that its island status is not all that noticeable today.

One of the central attractions in Portsmouth is the Historic Dockyard where you can discover much about Britain’s naval past and visit three of the most famous warships ever built. They are HMS Victory, which was launched in 1765 and was used as Admiral Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and she is the world’s oldest commissioned warship. Also on view is the HMS Warrior which was launched in 1860 and is the world’s first armour-plated and iron hulled warship. When launched, she was the largest, fastest, most heavily armed and most heavily armoured warship the world had seen.

From 2012 the third ship in this historic collection, Mary Rose, will be unveiled in her new museum gallery. Built in Portsmouth and launched in 1511 she was King Henry VIII’s favourite ship, and served the navy well for 33 years. She sank in 1545 and was salvage in 1982 in a very complicated maritime recovery. She was one of the largest ships in the English navy throughout more than three decades of intermittent war and was one of the earliest examples of a purpose-built sailing warship.

In complete contrast to these ancient ship is Portsmouth’s most visible attraction, the Spinnaker Tower.

Soaring 170 metres above Portsmouth Harbour, Spinnaker Tower is taller than the London Eye and has three decks. One of these has a glass floor, which allows for stunning views of Portsmouth, but can be unpleasant for those who suffer from vertigo. The second deck contains a cafe where you can enjoy refreshments and the view without experience the feeling that the floor has given way. The top deck is open to the elements, and at such a height the wind can blow quite fiercely, but it is a bracing experience just the same.

Portsmouth is easy to reach by road, rail, sea and air, and it is getting more popular as a civilian seaport with a number of cruise companies berthing there or including the city in their itineraries.

One of the most popular places to visit these days in Gunwharf Quays shopping and entertainment precinct which contains a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, bowling alley and casino in which to while away the time and to immerse yourself in activities of a convenient non-historic nature.

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