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Tours > England's West Country > Penzance

Penzance - Cornish Riviera

A panoramic view of Penzance harbour. Wikipedia photo

It is hard to believe, but the most attractive little harbor town of Penzance, (at the end of the A30 coming from Exeter) was raided by pirates, partly destroyed by Cromwell, sacked and burned by the soldiers from the Spanish Armada, and bombed by the Luftwaffe in WWII. Its tranquility, backed by its moderate climate, nurturing an abundance of subtropical plants, attracts artists who reside here in great numbers (and at the busy fishing port of nearby Newlyn), and the inevitable tourists, who come to enjoy the early spring flowers. The town has scores of elegant Georgian and Regency buildings. The 1835 Egyptian House is now owned by the National Trust. Of more interest is the fascinating Maritime Museum, laid out like a wooden-hulled, four-decker man-of-war, with many exhibits taken from wrecks of sailing ships.

Three miles east of Penzance, reached by a causeway at low tide (or by boat at other times) stands St. Michael's Mount, a great rockpile about 250 ft in height, topped by a medieval fortress converted from a Benedictine monastery with 17th century additions). Visitors can view a collection of armor and antique furniture or take tea and scones with Devon cream in the National Trust restaurant.The complex was been owned and inhabited by the St. Aubyn family for hundreds of years.

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