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Dover

Dover Castle (© Clive Gordon | iStockphoto.com)

Introduction

The White Cliffs of Dover (© stockcam | iStockphoto.com)

Dover (pop. 34,000) is the main port linking England to Continental Europe. Dover is only 34km away from the French town of Calais. 18 million passengers cross the Channel every year, either by ferries, hovercraft or through the Euro-tunnel using Eurostar bullet-train.

Dover is famous for its white cliffs, which are made of chalk and gave Britain its nickname of Albion, meaning "white".

Dover was settled at least since the Bronze Age, and a waterlogged boat found there was estimated to be dating from ca. 1550 BC , making it one of the oldest seagoing vessels ever recovered.

The main tourist attraction, apart from the cliffs, is Dover Castle, which started as a Saxon fort and was reinforced by William the Conqueror and Henry II. The castle came under attack in 1216 in a tentative French invasion, but the constable of the castle Hubert de Burgh successfully defended Dover during the three-month siege.

The Romans already built a 80-foot high lighthouse there in 50 AD, which still survives. Next to it, a Roman mansion known as the Painted House dates from about about AD 200 and is one of the best preserved Roman building in Britain.

Dover became the centre of English Channel defense during World War I. And during World War II. The town came repeatedly under the fire of German bombers and long-range guns, and consequently a series of underground caves and tunnels in the cliffs were dug and used as air-raid shelters.


How to get there

Dover is 120km of Central London, close to the southeasternmost tip of England. The French town of Calais is only 32km across the English Channel. Coming by car, the A2 runs north to Canterbury where it becomes the M2 to London. Alternatively, London can also be reached via the M20 to the south via Folkestone, Ashford and Leeds Castle.

Trains run between Dover Priory and London's Charring Cross station (1h45min to 2h, 21.30), Canterbury (25min, 5), Ashford International (Eurostar station; 30min, 6.80) and Hastings (via Ashford, 1h25min, 13).

National Express has direct bus services to London (2h20min to 3h, 10.80), Canterbury (40min, 4.10) and Ashford (1h, 4.30).

Local bus No 711 goes to Brighton via Hastings.

By sea, regular ferry services operate between Dover and Calais (France) or Ostend (Belgium).

               

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