I visit Plymouth regularly but had never had the time to see this amazing piece of 17th century architecture, so on a cool, September day, I set aside a couple of hours to see what was on offer.
The Citadel was started in 1665 as coastal defence for Plymouth and the perceived threat of attack from the Dutch Navy. Some of it was constructed around Drake's original fort here. As I wander around it, the scale is mind blowing; some of the walls are 70 feet thick, stout enough to resist any cannon fire and in most places, the walls are equally as high, again, a surefire means to keep invaders at bay.
The Citadel covers a vast area and as there wasn't a tour available today, I had to console myself with a stroll around it's outer perimeter. It's built mainly of limestone and some of the blocks must weight several tonnes, a huge engineering project by any means considering steam power was still 150 years in the future.
There's a "blockhouse" in its southeast corner, from which chains were slung across Cattewater inlet to the battery on the opposite side to prevent enemy ships from accessing the town.
There are a few old cannons left on show, and it's rumoured that these were not only used as a defence against foreign invaders, but could also be turned upon the town if required during the English Civil War.
The Royal Citadel is an important piece of England's maritime history and next time I go back, I will certainly take the guided tour inside.
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