Dover, Kent Hotels, Resort Accommodations

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DOVER
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Badly bombed during the war, DOVER 's town authorities have put a lot of effort and money into rebuilding attractions, particularly the early Victorian New Bridge development along the Esplanade. Despite such valiant attempts, Dover Castle is still by far the most interesting of the numerous attractions which plug the port's defensive history. Entertainment of a saltier nature is offered by Dover's legendary White Cliffs , which dominate the town and have long been a source of inspiration for lovers, travellers and soldiers sailing off to war.

The town's chief attraction is Dover Castle (daily: April-Sept 10am-6pm; Oct 10am-5pm; Nov-March 10am-4pm), a superbly positioned defensive complex, begun in 1168 and in continuous military use until the 1980s. The Romans put Dover on the map when they chose its harbour as the base for their northern fleet and erected a lighthouse here to guide the ships into the river mouth. Beside the lighthouse stands a Saxon-built church, St Mary in Castro , dating from the seventh century, with motifs graffitied by irreverent Crusaders still visible near the pulpit. Further up the hill is the impressive, well-preserved Norman keep , built by Henry II as a palace. Inside, there's an interactive exhibition on spying; you can also climb its spiral stairs to the lofty battlements for views over the sea to France. The castle's other main attraction is its network of secret wartime tunnels dug during the Napoleonic war. Extended during World War II and used as a headquarters to plan the Dunkirk evacuation, " Hellfire Corner " - the tunnels' wartime nickname - can be seen on a fifty-minute guided tour (every 20min). The tour is spiced up with a little gore, and reveals the quaintly low-tech communications systems and war rooms of the Navy's command post.

Postwar rebuilding has made Dover town centre a grim place, but in 1970 the construction of a car park on New Street did at least lead to the discovery of an ancient guest house. The Roman Painted House (April-Sept Tues-Sun 10am-5pm) possesses some reasonable Roman wall paintings, the remains of an underground Roman heating system and some mosaics - it's worth a look if you've some extra time. The nearby Dover Museum on the Market Square (daily: April-Oct 10am-6pm; Nov-March 10am-5.30pm) has three floors packed with informative displays on Dover's past, including a restored Bronze Age boat discovered in the town in 1992 - and a stuffed polar bear.

The high ground to the west of town, originally the site of a Napoleonic-era fortress, retains one interesting oddity, the Grand Shaft (July & Aug Tues-Sun 2-5pm), a triple staircase, entered on Snargate Street (opposite the Hoverport access road), by which troops could descend at speed to defend the port in case of attack.

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