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Tourist Places To Visit In St Andrews
A key town on the east coast of Fife Peninsula in Scotland, St. Andrews is home to the oldest university in the country – the St. Andrews University – that was established here in 1413 and is also the birthplace of golf, with the famous Royal and Ancient Golf Club founded here in 1754. While most tourists visiting the town associate St. Andrews with its history of golf, there are a surprising number of local attractions in town that make it a versatile and interesting choice to holiday in. Experience its fascinating beaches, quaint cafes, and historic churches as you go exploring through St. Andrews’ medieval streets. Read on to know more about some of the best places to visit when in St. Andrews.
St. Andrews Links Golf Courses
Scotland is the birthplace of golf, and the modern version of the sport as we know it today was invented here in St. Andrews in the 15th-century. Not surprisingly, St. Andrews is home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which is the oldest golf club in the city and was established here in the year 1750. Apart from that, St. Andrews is packed with numerous golf courses, and seven of the most famous ones in the city are owned and operated by the non-profit organisation known as St. Andrews Links. It also manages the Old Course, which is the oldest golf course in the world. The golf courses are open to visitors and avid lovers of the sport can also try their hand at a round of golf themselves. Even if your golfing skills are not up to the par, just enjoying a simple stroll along the cart paths of these famed courses is an interesting experience in itself.
British Golf Museum
Enthusiasts of golf should not miss out on a visit to the British Golf Museum, which documents the history of the sport through the Middle Ages to the present. Through its many interesting historic exhibits, visitors can learn all about the making of the golf ball and the golf club, including the development of the sport’s rules and techniques and the role that St. Andrews has played in the game. The collection showcased in the museum ranges from a set of golf clubs dating back to the 17th-century to modern equipment, clothing and trophies. There is also detailed information and memorabilia from winners of the Open like Tom Morris and Tom Morris Jr., and even Lady Margaret Scott who was a three-time Ladies Champion of the Open in the 19th-century.
Cathedral of St. Andrews
Till around the 15th-century, St. Andrews’ Cathedral was the centre of religious and spiritual power in Scotland; by 1472, it had become the seat of the archbishop. Once the largest church in Scotland, the cathedral was plundered in 1559 and now only the ruins of the magnificent structure remain. However, the remnants that include a Romanesque east front and a part of the west front, an aisle on the southern side and a 108-foot St. Rule’s Tower are still an impressive-looking spectacle even today.
Climbing St. Rule’s Tower to enjoy the outstanding views of the coastline and the town centre is one of the top things to try when visiting the cathedral. There’s also a museum here that boasts a brilliant collection of historic items like the St. Andrews sarcophagus from the 8th-century, 9th and 10th-century Celtic crosses, and 17th and 18th-century grave slabs.
St. Andrews University
The St. Andrews University was founded in the year 1411, making it the oldest university in Scotland and the third-oldest one in the world. While the university is a great seat of learning for those who study here, it also makes for a popular spot for tourists to explore thanks to its well-preserved and impressive architecture. The grounds of the university also make for a fun walkabout, especially on a warm summer’s day. There are also religiously significant monuments here for those who are interested in the historic importance of the region. Noteworthy museums like the Bell Pettigrew Museum, which houses natural history collections, the Gateway Galleries with its contemporary art exhibits and the Museum of University of St. Andrews (MUSA) are also worth a visit.
St. Andrews Castle
St. Andrews Castle lies mostly in ruins today but was once an impressive and formidable structure that served various roles throughout history. More than 500 years old, the castle started out with being the former bishops’ and archbishops’ residence and later became a fortress that saw numerous sieges. The remains of an old medieval tunnel that was dug during a year-long siege after Cardinal Beaton’s murder in 1546 can still be seen today, including the dungeon where the cardinal was imprisoned during the time. The castle later served as a state prison for a period of time until falling into disrepair; a state it still lies in today.
While the castle ruins are an amazing spot to visit, the surroundings are just as evocative with spectacular coastline views. Don’t forget to pop into the visitor centre here where you can check out informative displays associated with the castle and the conservation efforts that have been made for its preservation.
St. Andrews Aquarium
The St. Andrews Aquarium will prove to be an especially fun visit for kids. There are countless species of fish here, including sharks and piranhas apart from other beasts like seals, meerkats, crocodiles and other insects and reptiles. Children of all ages can enjoy interactive encounters with animals here, like feeding programs with seals, meerkats, and penguins. The aquarium also serves as a seal sanctuary and has a gift shop and a café on-site as well. Moreover, the aquarium’s lovely location and the stunning views around it draw tourists almost just as much as the sea creatures.
St. Andrews Museum & Preservation Trust Museum
The St. Andrews Museum is located in an impressive Victorian-era mansion within the grounds of Kilnburn Park and features exhibits that showcase the detailed history of St. Andrews. Apart from the numerous artefacts, there is also an art gallery here displaying local artwork that is definitely worth checking out. Moreover, there are regular events like concerts and workshops for children held here as well. The St. Andrews Preservation Trust Museum is located close by and is worth a visit as well. A lot of exhibits and displays featured here are associated with the St. Andrews Castle and St. Andrews Cathedral.
Craigtoun Country Park
Situated just a few kilometres from St. Andrews, Craigtoun Country Park is a wonderful spot to spend a day with your family, especially if you have children. Spread over 47 acres, the park has wonderful amenities that will appeal immensely to kids like a bouncy castle, a miniature railway and rowing boats that can be enjoyed on the Dutch Village lake in the park. Take a fun hike on the nature trail and explore other features of the park like the ‘fairy glen’, greenhouses and the Italian garden. There’s also woodland, marshland and water habitats in the park apart from the formal gardens where visitors can observe a variety of resident wildlife like squirrels, swans, mallards and grey herons.