Plymouth is a city located at the mouth of both the Plym and Tamar rivers with Plymouth Sound being one of the largest natural harbours in the world. There has been activity in the area since 1000 BC, but surprisingly nearby Plympton was a larger port for exporting tin from Dartmoor until the River Plym began to silt up when what was known as Sutton began to grow and was then referred to as Plymouth.
Plymouth originally came to prominence in 16th Century with the legendary sailors, Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake- who defeated the Armada after finishing his game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe in 1588. In 1620 The Pilgrim Fathers left on their voyage to the new world on the Mayflower to establish New England. They left from the harbour steps pictured on the left, now known as the Mayflower steps and there is a plaque to commemorate it.
Captain Cook started his journeys from Plymouth and Napoleon was anchored off the city as a prisoner for two weeks before being exiled.
Plymouth has been a major Royal Navy port with its Devonport dockyard and its importance resulted in heavy bombardments during WW2 when most of the city centre was destroyed. A bombed church still stands as a memorial in the city centre, which contrasts greatly with the brand new shopping centre that is behind it.
In spite of this destruction there are a few older buildings that remain. The harbour area known as the Barbican is the oldest surviving area with Barbican New Street dating back to 1581, where you can see the Elizabethan House (as pictured) which is maintained by the National Trust. Some old buildings survived in the centre the Prysten House (also called Yogges House ) on Finewell Street, an Elizabethan Merchant house around a courtyard and a stocked apothecary.
Plymouth Hoe is a green stretch of land overlooking Plymouth sound and it is one of the main focal points for visitors to the city with Smeatons Tower, its landmark red and white lighthouse that was originally on the Eddystone rocks, 14 miles away but was moved there in 1882. The Plymouth Gin Distillery is also historic and although its use as a distillery dates to 1793, the building predates it back to possibly 1425.
As a major city, Plymouth has a number of museums, theatres and art galleries. It also has one of the best aquariums in the country. It also has excellent transport links with an airport, trains and ferries that travel to France (Roscoff in Brittany) and Spain (Santander). It is also the gateway to Cornwall and has a landmark railway bridge made by Brunel linking it to Saltash, as well as a more modern toll road bridge.