A pretty UK town known for its brilliant architecture was once an island that could only be reached by boat. Rising above the Cambridgeshire Fens, the city of Ely is known for its superb cathedral, gorgeous rivers, and Oliver Cromwell’s only surviving home.
The historic city located 40 minutes from Cambridge used to be an island. The ‘Isle of Ely’ was completely surrounded by water, so much so it was only reachable by boat before the waterlogged fens were drained in the 17th century. The water, then, separated the city from the rest of Cambridge.
The huge stretch of water brought a profitable trade influencing the city’s name for years to come. Ely was known, when the Vikings wandered the plains of East Anglia, as the ‘Isle of Eels.’
A prime location for eel fishing, the Isle of Ely became an administrative county in 1889.
At 26 meters above sea level stands Ely Cathedral, originating back to 673 AD. The cathedral, a major tourist attraction, was one of the premier Saxon churches in England on par with Glastonbury and Canterbury.
On Tripadvisor, user Mike said: “Beautiful cathedral from the moment you walk in and see the painted ceiling. Fascinating history!”
“Also recommend the stained glass museum accessed from the cathedral where you can get more great views looking down into the nave,” he added.
Steeped in history, with outstanding details and a magnificent structure, the cathedral is just a stone’s throw away from Oliver Cromwell’s museum, which is free to visit.
”Loved walking round the historic streets, wandering along the riverside and enjoying a boat trip,” one tourist wrote on Tripadvisor.
“But the most amazing things about Ely are the free car parks, the very clean toilets, and you can get the train to Cambridge for just £2.40 return.”
Ely boasts an array of charming coffee shops and delightful brunch spots, making it an ideal destination for a day trip.
It has also made The Times list of ‘Best places to live in the UK 2020.’