Canterbury is a small city, with only some 55,000 residents, but its name is familiar to many because of its cathedral. The seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Christ Church Cathedral is the symbolic heart of the Church of England as well as the worldwide Anglican Communion. While earlier Roman and Anglo-Saxon churches stood on the site, the structure today dates mostly from the 11th and 12th centuries and is one of the most notable examples of Gothic architecture in England, a style introduced by the Normans, who conquered the country in 1066. A century later, in 1170, after the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket at King Henry II's order, the cathedral became a pilgrimage site.
When UNESCO turned its attention to Canterbury, it paired the cathedral with two other religious buildings for its World Heritage List: St. Martin's Church (England's oldest church) and the atmospheric ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey. The city also has well-preserved houses built by Huguenot weavers in the 17th century, and parts of the original city walls, which date back to the Roman era, remain intact. Americans, especially, may want to stop by 59 Palace Street. The building is today a café, but it was here that a lease for the Mayflower was signed in 1620 which would make the sailing of the Pilgrims across the Atlantic possible.