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“Dover Castle and Secret Tunnels”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Dover Castle

Dover Castle
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$325.82*
and up
White Cliffs of Dover Private Half-Day Tour from Dover
Ranked #1 of 52 things to do in Dover
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: The most iconic of all English fortresses commanding the gateway to the realm for nine centuries. Climb the Great Tower, meet the characters and immerse yourself in vivid medieval interiors. Then delve deep within Dover's White Cliffs to witness the drama in the Secret Wartime Tunnels. Roam through centuries of history at Dover Castle, from the Romans to the 20th century, in an action-packed day out.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Stroller parking, Food available for purchase, Activities for young children
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Dover Castle and Secret Tunnels”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 23, 2012

The first sight many people see of the UK, or England in particular, are the White Cliffs of Dover. These are the chalk cliffs on the English side of the Strait of Dover, (in French Pas de Calais), and is the narrowest part of the English Channel at some 21 miles (34 km). At this distance it is possible on a clear day to see the coast of the other country, and at night see the lights over the other side, even as one local Dover person told me, the car lights as they travel along the French coast roads.

So, the first sight as people catching the ferry plying the Channel are the brilliant white chalk of the cliffs, and certainly on the many returning flights to the UK, as I look down to catch a glimpse of home, the white cliffs stand out above anything else on a cloudless day.

Atop the cliffs of Dover has been a significant position for man since before the Roman's invaded, as a lookout position to repel invaders, place for navigation, a place for communication.

In the 1180's, the then King of England and provinces of France, (King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou), Henry II, built a castle on top of the cliffs at Dover, and over the next 800 years, the buildings and grounds have been adapted to the changing needs and demands.

On my first visit to Dover Castle, I caught the high speed train (130 mph, 210 kph), from London, and arriving at Dover Priory train station it was a short walk, but very steep climb to The Castle.

My first impression was, "this is not a real castle, it is not in ruins", it is pristine unlike many other British castle I have visited. Despite the bombardment in the Second World War, it is said that Hitler had stated that the castle should not be attacked as he wanted it as a base for himself, the buildings where like they had just been completed.

So Henry II built his castle to impressed his many foreign guests, as was said, the castle was built as a bed and breakfast, an overnight hotel, as well as a garrison, and as people crossed from France, the elegance and richness would show what a powerful King he was.

Inside the battlement walls, the buildings are well maintained, it was still a military garrison until it was handed over to the Ministry of Works in 1963, and then onto English Heritage who now run the castle. But, it is not only the buildings above ground, there are extensive secret tunnels cut into the chalk, which housed up-to 2,000 persons in WWII, including a hospital, now mostly open to the public, exhibiting the history they have played over the years. The sights, sounds and smells are recreated to give a great understanding of what went on there.

In the Great Tower, there awaited another shock for me.

English Heritage have laid out displays, showing what it would/may have looked like in the days of Henry II. On level one, the guest bedroom, level two the Kings bedroom, throne room, and a small chapel attributed to Thomas Becket, who had been murdered by said agents of Henry II. Henry denied any involvement in the murder, and it is said this small chapel, still in use once a year, was Henry's penance to St. Thomas Becket.

The shock for me was the quality of the furniture, the vibrant colours of the paint and cloth. It looked too modern.

As with all the guides situated throughout the castle grounds, eager to engage and full of knowledge, I was able to enquire as to the authenticity of the exhibits, surely they could not be true, as all the movies (mostly American) I had seen of those times, I thought that everything would be dark and grey. The guide had found his ideal visitor, for he was able to give me all his acquired knowledge, the fact that the woodworkers had the skills to produce such stunning work, that they had the ingredients to produce dyes of such striking colours for paints, murals and cloths.

Wow, I was shocked, as were the other visitors I spoke to as we toured the castle. Perhaps the British were and are a colourful lot after all, with OK some French influence.

Visited May 2012
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1 Thank C4more
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Kendal, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“A Must See”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 21, 2012

Unbelievable that hundreds of people lived so deep underground for years in such confined circumstances. The furnishings and fittings are original, (including newspapers) and the technology seems so primitive now. You have to stick with your tour guide or you could get lost and I found it a bit difficult to keep up.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
Thank Burneside
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kendal, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“History comes to life”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 21, 2012

A really great place to take kids - and there were lots visiting from France. We thought the entrance fees high but then thought the exhibits justified the cost - there are speaking moving holograms of knights and ladies in the rooms which are lavishly furnished. I hadn't realised that the furniture of that period was painted and decorated in lots of colours. The throne room was popular with the kids but there were kitchens and guard rooms too. I managed the climb up the tower but won't be doing it again! We were grateful for the little train that travels round the site so we could visit all the outlying buildings. There is so much to see you can spend all day there - take a picnic or use the cafe.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Burneside
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lightwater, Surrey
Level Contributor
174 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
“Fascinating piece of English Heritage.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 20, 2012

Great place to visit. Super friendly & knowledgeable staff. Plenty of parking - but we did go mid-week. World War 2 rooms really well done and lots to see and learn. Older part has been recently recreated to its former glory. Well worth a visit - only regret was that we didn't have long enough. Could easily spend a full day here.

Visited May 2012
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Thank Neese50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Amazing place!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 19, 2012

Absolutely gorgeous, well worth the walk to get up to the castle! The castle itself was very fascinating, but the highlight of the visit was the wartime tunnels. Make sure you do both the underground hospital and Operation Dynamo tours. Awesome views of the city, English Channel and France. Also, be prepared to spend the day here.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
Thank rachelk55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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