Plymouth Introduction Walking Tour, Plymouth

Plymouth Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Plymouth

Plymouth, one of Britain's most prominent cities, boasts a great maritime heritage and a number of landmarks of both aesthetic and historic value. Barbican district – home of the Mayflower Steps, a place from where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked on their voyage to America in 1620; and the Sutton Harbour - home to the National Marine Aquarium, are just some of them. The following orientation walk will guide you through Plymouth's most notable sights so you can appreciate this jewel of a city in its diversity.
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Plymouth Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Plymouth Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » Plymouth (See other walking tours in Plymouth)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: VictoriaB
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Guildhall
  • Theatre Royal
  • Armada Way
  • Cornwall Street
  • Drake Circus Centre
  • The Minster Church Of St. Andrew
  • Plymouth Synagogue
  • Elizabethan House
  • National Marine Aquarium
  • Mayflower Steps
  • Royal Citadel
  • Plymouth Naval Memorial
  • Royal Marine Memorial
  • Smeaton's Tower
  • Belvedere
  • Tinside Lido

1) Guildhall (must see)

In the heart of the city stands this grandiose monument to Victorian art. The interior of the Guildhall is just as imposing as its fantastic facade. Plymouth's most important historic events are depicted on a set of stained glass windows. In the main hall hangs a Gobelin tapestry, portraying Raphael's 'Miraculous Draught of Fishes' – a present from Napoleon III.
Theatre Royal

2) Theatre Royal (must see)

The Theatre Royal consists of a large main auditorium that can produce West End musicals, opera and ballet; a smaller experimental theatre called The Drum; and, on a separate site, a production and education centre known as Theatre Royal 2. Theatre Royal was designed in 1977 by the Peter Moro Partnership, which had already designed a number of new theatres around the country. Building started in 1979 and the theatre was officially opened on 5 May 1982 by Princess Margaret.

The Theatre Royal comprises 1315 seats, but has a unique ability to compress the auditorium, creating a more intimate performance space of 787. It has a steep auditorium with two galleries and very large proscenium arch. The range of work presented and produced is extensive and includes major touring drama and musical productions, as well as leading opera and dance companies (including Birmingham Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, Glyndebourne On Tour and Welsh National Opera). The Theatre Royal also produces its own drama and musical productions each year, usually with commercial or subsidised partners. Many tour nationally or transfer to the West End.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Armada Way

3) Armada Way

Armada Way, Plymouth's main pedestrian boulevard, links the mainline train station to the waterfront and is filled with the widest range of fine shops and world brands. Here you'll also find the Armada Centre with even more stores. Don't forget to check out the unique Sun Dial on Armada Way and rest under the Spanish trees in the Piazza.
Cornwall Street

4) Cornwall Street

Cornwall Street is one of the main shopping areas in Plymouth, alongside Armada Way and New George Street. Here you will find various major chains selling goods for every taste - clothing for men, women and children, as well as books, jewellery, sports goods and toys.
Drake Circus Centre

5) Drake Circus Centre

Drake Circus Shopping Centre is a 425,000 square feet (39,484 m2) covered shopping mall in the centre of Plymouth, England, which opened in October 2006.
The new building was designed by London-based architects Chapman Taylor and built by Bovis Lend Lease. Situated behind the ruined Charles Church, preserved as the city's civilian war memorial, the building provoked a mixed reception.
In 2007 it won two retail industry national awards, one of which was the Retail Week magazine's "Shopping Location of the Year".
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
The Minster Church Of St. Andrew

6) The Minster Church Of St. Andrew (must see)

St Andrew's Church was designated as a Minster Church in 2009 and it continues to operate as the focus for religious civic events for the city and as a bustling evangelical church. It is likely to be on the site of the original Saxon church and was once attached to the abbey of Plympton. The church existed at least as early as the beginning of the 12th century, but by the 15th century it needed to be enlarged because of the growth of the town.

The building can be dated approximately as between 1430 and 1490. It has been restored three times, in 1824 by John Foulston, in 1875 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and by Sir Frederick Etchells after extensive bomb damage in World War II. The Resurgam Door is a commemoration of this. The length is 185 feet (56 m) and the width 96 feet (29 m). There are two aisles on each side of the nave and one each side of the chancel. The arcades are of the type which is standard in Cornwall at the period. The tower is 136 feet (41 m) high and was funded by Thomas Yogge, a prosperous merchant.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Plymouth Synagogue

7) Plymouth Synagogue (must see)

The Plymouth Synagogue, built in 1762, it is a Listed Grade II* building and the oldest synagogue built by Ashkenazi Jews in the English speaking world. No architect's name is recorded, and it is assumed that the rectangular, pitched-roof structure was designed and erected by a local master builder.

The building is of whitewashed brick and stone with a roof of Cornish slate. The street front is the eastern end of the synagogue, so the door is placed on the western front, in what is effectively the back garden. The building is tucked on a side-street, Sharman Kadish, the leading expert on Jewish buildings in Britain, believes that an unobtrusive location was chosen to avoid provoking the destructive riots that non-Anglican houses of worship often provoked in the eighteenth century. Kadesh believes that the corniced entrance, the date and Psalms 95:6 ( “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”) written in Hebrew dates form the renovation of 1863-4.

As was usual in British synagogues, there is a prayer board with the Hebrew prayer for the welfare of the Royal family. The prayer board at Plymouth dates from 1762. It was usual for the name of each new king to be painted over the names of previous monarchs. At present the names being prayed for are listed as King George V and Queen Mary.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Elizabethan House

8) Elizabethan House (must see)

A rare surviving structure of its period, the Elizabethan House is a great example of early 1600s living in Britain. The practically unchanged 7 rooms on 3 floors have bare wooden floors and original furniture, taking you back to Drake's Plymouth.
National Marine Aquarium

9) National Marine Aquarium (must see)

The National Marine Aquarium, built on reclaimed land, is located in Sutton Harbour, next to the Barbican and fishmarket, and was opened in May 1998. It is the largest aquarium in the United Kingdom. The mission statement of the National Marine Aquarium is "Driving Marine Conservation through Engagement". It is dedicated to its charitable aims of research, education and conservation.

The Aquarium is divided into 4 main zones: Plymouth Sound, British Coasts, Atlantic Ocean and Blue Planet. A visit to the aquarium takes you on a journey from the local waters of Plymouth across the world to the Great Barrier Reef. The Plymouth Sound displays marine life found around Plymouth. It concentrates on the surprising range of habitats found around the City. Most animals displayed in this zone are found in shallow water. sea stars, rays, lobsters, and an octopus. British Coasts zone houses life-size models of whales and dolphins found around Britain and the large Eddystone tank displays creatures found on the Eddystone reef, 12 miles offshore from Plymouth.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Mayflower Steps

10) Mayflower Steps (must see)

The Mayflower Steps are close to the site in the Barbican area of Plymouth, from which the Pilgrim Fathers are believed to have finally left England aboard the Mayflower, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to settle in North America on 6 September 1620. The traditional site of their disembarkation in North America is Plymouth Rock. The passengers who came predominantly from East Anglia sought religious and other freedoms. They had no links with Plymouth, but because of bad weather in the English Channel they were forced to put in at Plymouth seeking shelter and essential repairs.

Several surviving local buildings including what is now the Plymouth Gin Distillery in Southside Street and the Island House on the Quay are claimed to have accommodated some of them for one or more nights. The 'Steps' today consist of a commemorative portico with Doric columns of Portland stone that was built in 1934, and a small platform over the water with a brushed steel rail and a shelf with some nautical bronze artwork and historical information. It is on a small pier that was built about a century ago when some very old houses that were blocking construction of a road around the seaward side of the Citadel leading to the Hoe were cleared together with the significant Watch House. Today, boat trips leave the Mayflower Steps for trips around the Sound and up the Tamar for sight of the 'Dockyard and Warships'.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Royal Citadel

11) Royal Citadel (must see)

The Royal Citadel was built in the late 1660s to the design of Sir Bernard de Gomme. It is at the eastern end of Plymouth Hoe overlooking Plymouth Sound, and encompasses the site of the earlier fort that had been built in the time of Sir Francis Drake. During the Dutch Wars of 1664-67 King Charles II decided that it was necessary to realise the importance of Plymouth as a channel port. The original plan was to build a regular self-contained fort with five bastions, to the west of Drake's Fort, but this was revised to take in the earlier fort, resulting in the Citadel's irregular outline. Work began in March 1665, but it was not until 18 July 1666 that the foundation stone was laid by John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath. This stone, inscribed 'Jo Earle of Bathe 1666', is still in the wall facing the Hoe.

The Citadel is built of local limestone, while the English Baroque gateway, designed by Sir Thomas Fitz, is of Portland stone. The gateway was originally approached by a drawbridge over a dry moat, but these were removed with all the other outworks in the 1880s. The Royal Citadel was the most important English defence for over 100 years, with 70 ft high walls, and was regularly strengthened over the years, particularly during the 1750s when it was equipped with 113 guns. The Royal Citadel is still occupied by the military, being the base of 29 Commando Regiment of the Royal Artillery.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Plymouth Naval Memorial

12) Plymouth Naval Memorial

Plymouth's Naval Memorial was unveiled on July 29th, 1924 to commemorate those members of the Royal Navy who fell at sea where no memorial can be bestowed. It was decided that replicas of the Memorial, designed by leading European architect Sir Robert Lorimer, would be placed in the other two ports of the UK - Chatham and Portsmouth. At the entrance to the memorial are figures of the Greek gods, Neptune and Amphitrite, with sea horses.
Royal Marine Memorial

13) Royal Marine Memorial

The Royal Marine Memorial was unveiled on November 8, 1921. The 7 feet 6 inches tall bronze statue of St. George with a dagger represents conflict with militarism. On both sides are stone figures of Royal Marines, named 'Per Mare' and 'Per Terram', respectively. The composition is completed with the official crest of the Royal Marines.
Smeaton's Tower

14) Smeaton's Tower (must see)

Smeaton's Tower is the third and most notable Eddystone Lighthouse. It marked a major step forward in the design of lighthouses. In use until 1877, it was largely dismantled and rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe, where it now stands as a memorial to its designer, John Smeaton, the celebrated civil engineer. Smeaton was recommended to the task by the Royal Society and he modelled the shape of his lighthouse on that of an oak tree, using granite blocks. He pioneered the use of "hydraulic lime," a form of concrete that will set under water, and developed a technique of securing the granite blocks together using dovetail joints and marble dowels.

Construction started in 1756 at a site in Millbay where Smeaton built a jetty and workyard in the south west corner of the harbour for unloading and working the stone. The work was completed in August 1759, at a cost of £40,000. Many of the men employed in the construction were Cornish tin miners, and to avoid the possibility of press ganging, which was rife at the time, Trinity House arranged with the Admiralty in Plymouth that each man was issued with a medal to confirm that they were working on the lighthouse. Smeaton's tower has been a Grade I listed building since 1954. It is open for visitors who may climb the 93 steps, including steep ladders, to the lantern room and see the views of Plymouth Sound and the city.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

15) Belvedere

Constructed in 1891, The Belvedere, also known as the 'Wedding Cake' for its layered structure, is a pompous staircase with several balconies from which there is a breathtaking view of Plymouth’s beautiful coastline. Throughout the 1800s, regular political meetings were held right below the Belvedere, in what used to be the so-called Bull Ring. This was also the point where the Promenade Pier met land. Unfortunately the pier was lost during the Blitz.
Tinside Lido

16) Tinside Lido

Tinside Pool is a unique 1935 Art Deco lido sited beside Plymouth Sound and is overlooked by Plymouth Hoe and Smeaton's Tower. The lido is open in the summer months between May and September. The lido was officially opened on 2 October 1935. A victim of declining popularity and neglect, the lido closed in 1992 but a vociferous local campaign led to a renovation, at a cost of £3.4 million, and Grade II Listed Building status in 1998.

The facility re-opened to the public in 2005. A lift and hoist were added in 2009 for disabled access. The lido design is a semicircle of 180 feet diameter (55 metres). There is a large central fountain and two smaller side fountains. The lido is floodlit at night, originally the lighting went through three decorative colour changes. Sun loungers and deckchairs are available for hire.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Plymouth, England

Create Your Own Walk in Plymouth

Create Your Own Walk in Plymouth

Creating your own self-guided walk in Plymouth is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Barbican Neighborhood

Historical Barbican Neighborhood

Plymouth's Barbican neighbourhood is the oldest in the city, located in the old harbour area. Being one of the few parts of the city to escape destruction during the WWII Blitz, the Barbican boasts architecture from the early sixteenth century and on. Discover Barbican's wonderful mix of historic buildings, lively pubs and restaurants with this walking tour guide.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.5 Km or 0.3 Miles