Coventry offers more than just academic excellence in sport and an active sporting life. Coventry and its surroundings hold a vast variety of historical and cultural sites to see and discover.
- Population: 307.000
- Area: West Midlands
- Distance to London: 153 km
- Distance to Birmingham: 30 km
- Nearest Airport: Birmingham Airport
- Founded in 1043 by Leofrid, married to Lady Godiva
- Coventry is located further inland from the coast than any other British city
- “Being sent to Coventry”: The English phrase “sent to Coventry” means to be ostracised. The expression supposedly originates from the hostile attitudes against the royalist prisoners held in Coventry during the English Civil War.
- The London black taxi cab, a global symbol of Britain, has always been made in Coventry.
- Coventry has two universities (Coventry and Warwick) and three cathedrals.
Here is a short presentation of the main attractions the city and region have to offer.
St. Michael’s Cathedral
The city's 14th century cathedral was heavily bombed during World War II, leaving only its outer walls and spires. These remain today and it is possible to wander about the old cathedral under open air.
In 1962 the impressive new St. Michael’s Cathedral was opened, one of the newest cathedrals in the world. The new cathedral is built right next to the ruins of the old cathedral with an architectural design that blends together the new and the old. The cathedral was recently voted Britain’s most popular 20th century building.
St. Mary’s Guildhall
Another historic Coventry building, dating from 1340. St Mary's Guildhall is one of the finest medieval guildhalls in England, and one of Coventry's most splendid and historic buildings. It has been standing in the centre of Coventry for more than 640 years and has served as the centre of King Henry VI’s court during the War of the Roses. It has been the prison of Mary, Queen of Scotland and Shakespeare is thought to have staged one of his plays in the guildhall. Today the St’ Mary’s Guildhall functions as a venue for conferences, meetings, civil weddings etc. The guildhall also houses a restaurant.
Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity church is the only complete medieval church in Coventry and one of the largest medieval parish churches in England. Its spire of 72 meters and length of 59 meters make it almost the size of the cathedral. It has changed greatly through its 900-year history. It was practically destroyed during a fire in 1257, it has been rebuilt, extended and redecorated as religious styles and theologies have passed through Coventry. Today one of the church’s features is its medieval doom painting that was restored in 2002.
Coventry is also hometown to the legendary Lady Godiva, an English noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry to convince her husband to remit an oppressive taxation he had imposed on his tenants. Every year, Coventry hosts a festival and a procession in the remembrance of Lady Godiva.
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
The museum opened in 2007 and includes an art gallery and museum, creative media studios, an arts information centre and a history centre for the city's archives.
Coventry Transport Museum
Many British cars and bicycles started their life in Coventry, which is considered the birthplace of the British cycle and motor industry. The Coventry Transport Museum displays the world’s largest collection of British Road Transport, including 240 cars and commercial vehicles, 250 cycles and 100 motorcycles.
Sport and Leisure
Coventry has its own football team that plays in the championship, Coventry City Football Club. The team’s home field is the Ricoh Arena that also serves as a venue for big rock concerts and conferences.
Coventry also offers a vide variety of shopping possibilities.
Stratford-upon-Avon is about 30 km from Coventry and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the West Midlands region, attracting about three million visitors each year. The great interest in the city is due to the fact that world-renowned playwright and poet William Shakespeare was born here. The house where Shakespeare was born is today a museum that holds an exhibition of his life and background. It is also possible to see a Shakespearian play as the town is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Warwick castle was build in 1068 and lies on the edge of Avon, facing the fields. The castle is a very popular tourist attraction that aside from the interesting architecture, features several paintings and drawings by Antonio Canaletto, the 18th-century Italian master. The castle also features one of the world’s largest siege engines. The large garden surrounding the castle is a sight in itself.However, take care - rumour has it that ghosts haunt the castle.
The UK capital is l50 km away and in reach within 1 ½ hours from Coventry. London is always worth a visit.For more information on what to see in London, click here.
A bit of history
For more than a century Coventry was the centre of the car industri in Britain. The famous black taxi that drives the streets of London started its days here. Covetry has also given us the first version of the bicycle as we know it today.
Because of the city's industrial importance, Coventry was the victim of an extensive bombing during the World War II, known as the Coventry Blitz. The bombing was devastating for the city that was destroyed in great parts.
Despite of, or perhaps because of the bombing, Coventry was the first city to twin with another city, Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) in Russia. Later, in 1959, Coventry twinned with German city Dresden as a gesture of peace and reconciliation. Coventry is now twinned with 27 cities around the world and has taken ‘Peace and Reconciliation’ as a motto for the city.
The city is host to several centres for Peace and Reconciliation. The Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation is situated at the University while Coventry Cathedral is home to two organisations working for reconciliation, The International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR) and the Community of the Cross of Nails.
Each year the city of Coventry holds a ‘Peace Month’ where divert cultural events put focus on Peace. The city has various sites and landmarks around the city to commemorate the reconciliation.
Because of the bombing in 1940, the Coventry city centre is relatively new. However, there are still pre-war buildings and the rebuilding of the city has been made with respect to the city’s architectural past. A great example of this is Coventry Cathedral.