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Warships in Portsmouth Harbour
Portsmouth is the only British city to be built on an island : Portsea Island. For many centuries , it was only accessible by one bridge . But nowadays, the city has spread out onto the mainland and access is via several roads.
To the East of the island is Portsmouth Harbour, facing Gosport and Fareham. To the West is Langstone Harbour across which lies Hayling Island. To the South, Portsea is shielded from the open sea by the Isle of Wight, across the Solent.

This very special geographic situation has given Portsmouth a crucial strategic significance through the centuries, and made it a privileged spot for the Royal Navy to keep its fleet, prepare for wars, crusades, and defend the territory.

Besides its many historical places of interest, Portsmouth offers a wide range of entertainment : beach and seaside fun at Southsea, old Portsmouth textcharm, miles of good angling foreshore, sailing and windsurfing, many eating houses and excellent shopping facilities, all this within easy reach of the Continent and London . Near one of Portsmouth main landmarks, the Guildhall, stands Portsmouth excellent public library which contains a wealth of fascinating naval information .
Portsmouth Guildhall
At night Portsmouth and Southsea still buzz with activity. The city attracts many visitors from all around to its theatres, such as the beautiful King's Theatre in Albert Road, its famous Guildhall concerts, many restaurants, clubs and amusement arcades and leisure centres like South Parade pier, and the Pyramids Centre.

Historical Portsmouth

The chief attraction in Portsmouth remains its great history. From the times of the crusades, Portsmouth was chosen as a favourite departure and return port because it was and still is so safe and sheltered. In fact Richard I spent so much time in Portsmouth preparing his ships for the crusades, that he had a house built there.
Between 1418 and 1494, 2 bastions were built to defend the town from invasions : the Round Tower and the Square Tower, still standing today.

Throughout England's tumultuous history, kings and queens have resided, sailed from and returned to Portsmouth; convicts were herded behind its great walls whilst awaiting departure for the penal colony of Australia; many famous personalities are connected with this great city amongst whom Charles Dickens who was born and grew up there.

Many fortifications were built in and around Portsmouth to protect the port, the fleet and the town from attacks from the French and the Spanish , particularly during the Napoleonic conflicts that shook Europe in the 19th century. These defence works take the shape of forts strewn along the Hampshire coast , some of them built at sea to guard the entrance of the port.


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Things to do in Portsmouth

Southsea Beaches
Southsea
Southsea is the Southern part of Portsmouth. A very romantic walk through Old Portsmouth leads to Southsea sea front .
Summer or winter, Southsea is always buzzing with activity. It has a lovely beach,exciting entertainment on its piers, fun fairs, amusement arcades, pubs and restaurants, and, dotted all along the sea front, museums (Royal Marines Museum, D-Day Museum), monuments ( Southsea Castle, the War memorial)and parks.
A short walk from the sea front is Southsea shopping centre and residential area. Both are stylish, and blend tradition and inovation. Southsea has many pubs, restaurants, night clubs, large and small hotels and bed and breakfast accomodation.
Hayling Island Other activities
Across Langstone Harbour from Portsmouth, Hayling Island can be reached by a small ferry from the extreme Southeastern point of Portsea Island near Southsea Marina or by road via a bridge from Havant.
The North of the Island is quiet and given over to market gardening whilst South Hayling is a thriving tourist area offering beautiful beaches, safe bathing and lovely walks through wildlife reservations.
Hayling is where board sailing was born and it is an ideal place to learn , practice or perfect windsurfing skills, or to sit back and watch the experts.

Hayling is a magic place to walk, especially out of season when the nature reserves are practically empty of human visitors and the feeling of wilderness is at its highest. The 'Hayling Billy Leisure Trail ' is one of the most popular walks in the area.

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Things to see in Portsmouth

The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum Museums
The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is well worth a visit.. Besides having been the residence of a renouned English novelist, its shows the life style of people in the great Victorian era.
Charles Dickens was the son of a pay clerk in the Navy Pay Office and resided in the house near the docks for a couple of years. He returned to Portsmouth in later years to give readings of his work , and settled in his old home in Commercial Road.
Southsea Castle Castles and Historic Houses
Built in 1544 to protect Portsmouth, Southsea Castle is part of the complex defence system still standing in and around the big city, as well as Fareham and Gosport.
Legend has it that King Henry VIII watched his flagship the 'Mary Rose' sink into the Solent from the ramparts of Southsea Castle.
'HMS Victory' Historic remains
'HMS Victory'
Extensively restored, HMS Victory is a jewel sitting in dry docks in the Royal Naval Dockyard. She is a striking testimony of life at sea in the reign of George III . Most of all, she was Admiral Nelson's flagship at the battle of Trafalgar when she flew the famous signal:
" England expects that every man should do his duty"
before fronting the French and Spanish fleets.

Visiting HMS Victory is an emotional experience, particularly when shown where Nelson fell, hit by a bullet, and the place where he lay dying and allegedly pronounce his famous last words:"Kiss me Hardy".
Here aboard Victory, as aboard Warrior, a very knowledgeable Navy guide will show you every part of the ship and astonish you with tales of life at sea.
The Mary Rose Historic remains
The Mary Rose
Stepping further back in time after a visit to HMS Warrior and HMS Victory, a visit to the Mary Rose is a breathtaking experience.
Since its rescue in 1982 from its watery resting place in the Solent where she sank in 1545, the Mary Rose has been carefully nurtured and reconstructed and presents a truly wonderful picture of naval technology in Tudor times.
Many objects and artefacts were also recovered during the long salvage operation and are now displayed in a fascinating exhibition.
' HMS Warrior' Museums
'HMS Warrior' is a battle ship used between 1861 and 1864. It is a good idea to begin a visit of the 3 famous vessels of the Dockyard with Warrior : she is the youngest of the 3 .
Beautifully restored , HMS Warrior is a wonderful way to experience life at sea in Victorian times. The tour guides are full of knowledge and enthusiasm and very good at sharing with visitors, facts and anecdotes about life on board.
Warrior was Queen Victoria's flagship : she was the fastest , the largest and most powerful to roam the seas. Today it is still a thrill to step on aboard, and back in time...
The D-Day Museum Museums
The D-Day Museum tells the full detailed story of the famous "Operation Overlord" which was to change the course of European History in 1945.
The Royal Marines Museum Museums
The Royal Marines Museum retraces the life of the Royal Marines from
the 1660s to the present day.
The Royal Naval Museum Museums
A visit to the Royal Naval Museum is an absolute must. The Royal Naval Dockyard, home of the Royal Navy for some 500 years, actually includes the Royal Naval Museum, but also HMS Warrior, HMS Victory and the Mary Rose.
The museum contains lots of ships models, and many naval objects and instruments from famous Royal Navy ships, and an abundance of documents that take you all through England's long and rich naval history. The visit of the Royal Naval Museum culminates in the 'Battle of Trafalgar' room, where Admiral Nelson's life is retraced and where the Battle is re-created with very realistic and emotional sound and motion effects.

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Situation and neighbouring towns

Ferries
Major port serving France, Spain and the Isle of Wight.

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Hotels

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Royal Beach HotelVISIT OUR PAGE for further details

Royal Beach Hotel, PortsmouthIn a prime position on the seafront at Southsea, The Royal Beach Hotel is an perfect base to see all of Portsmouth. Our hotel offers superb views across the Solent and excellent facilities for both business and pleasure.
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Price: From 65 No of rooms: 124 Cards: Amex Diners Visa/Mcard Switch Child rate: No
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Beaufort HotelVISIT OUR PAGE for further details

Beaufort Hotel, PortsmouthA warm welcome awaits you at the Beaufort Hotel .
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Price: From 63 No of rooms: 20 Cards: Visa/Mcard Switch Child rate: Yes
Ratings: AA 2


Express by Holiday InnVISIT OUR PAGE for further details

Express by Holiday Inn, PortsmouthThe hotel is in a superb location, making it ideal for business or leisure breaks. It comprises 130 en-suite bedrooms and two meeting rooms, all with comfort cooling.
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Price: From 59.95 No of rooms: 130 Cards: Amex Diners Visa/Mcard Switch Child rate: No
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Canterbury HotelVISIT OUR PAGE for further details

Canterbury Hotel, PortsmouthThe Canterbury is a large Edwardian property that has recently been converted into a 22 en-suite bedroom hotel. All rooms contain television and hospitality tray.
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Price: From 48 No of rooms: 20 Cards: Amex Diners Visa/Mcard Switch Child rate: Yes
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Tulip InnVISIT OUR PAGE for further details

Tulip Inn, PortsmouthWe offer style, comfort and excellent value for money. Situated near junction 12 of the M27, The Tulip Inn Portsmouth is easy to get to.
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Price: From 45 No of rooms: 108 Cards: Amex Diners Visa/Mcard Switch Child rate: No
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