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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Brighton

Brighton is the largest and best known seaside resort on the English Channel Coast, an urban center of population which, together with Hove, spreads for some 6mi/10km along the pebbled shoreline and over the sometimes steep chalk hills of the South Downs. Once a fishing village with narrow winding lanes, after 1750 it developed into an elegant watering place where, especially in the 19th C, the English aristocracy and upper classes used to gather. In 1841 it was linked to London by rail. Relaxing under the benign influence of sea air and mineral springs, visitors took leisurely strolls along the boulevards and piers and relaxed in the ballrooms of the fashionable hotels. Reminders of this period still abound: charming Regency terraces, the delightful Palace Pier and the exotic Royal Pavilion, the extraordinary folly created by the flamboyant and eccentric "Prinny", Prince of Wales - later George IV. Today even once fashionable Brighton has surrendered to mass tourism, the 3mi/5km long terraced sea front being lined with souvenir shops and amusement arcades. In addition to a full calendar of cultural events there are race meetings in the summer months and the famous Veteran Car Rally in November; there are also several sports stadiums. Over and above the lucrative holiday trade, the resort is highly popular as a conference venue. The University of Sussex, founded in 1961, is located on the outskirts. With Brighton having abandoned any pretensions to being a port, the industrial center of gravity has shifted west to nearby Shoreham.

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Royal Pavilion

Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
The Royal Pavilion in the center of Brighton was built between 1815 and 1823 in the Indian Mogul style, as the summer residence of the Prince of Wales. John Nash was the architect, with Frederick Crace and Robert Jones responsible for the interior. It remains one of the town's principal landmarks. Visitors enter the Pavilion through the Octagon Hall, passing via an antechamber into a long corridor with Chinese ornamentation. Note the fine cast iron banisters in imitation of bamboo. To the right of the corridor is the Banqueting Room with its astonishing oriental décor. This includes a chandelier of lotus shaped lamps protruding from the jaws of six chimerical creatures, all suspended from a silver dragon emerging from a cluster of palm fronds. In the Music Room to the left of the corridor more huge serpents and winged dragons adorn the domed, almost tent like room (the gas lamps were a technical novelty at the time and evoked considerable wonder). A similar indulgence in the exotic and the extraordinary prevails in the other rooms of the Pavilion, the exception being the prince's own private apartments which are in contrast plain. "Prinny's" passion for splendor provoked a popular outcry, caricaturists ridiculing his lavish lifestyle and eccentricities of taste. Queen Victoria eventually sold the outrageously extravagant palace for £50,000 to the town, which has been responsible for the building ever since.
Address: Church Street, Brighton BN1 1EE, England

Pavilion Dome

The distinctive Indian style stables and riding school which belonged to the palace now house the Dome Concert Hall and a museum.

Museum and Art Gallery

Situated in the former royal stables and riding school the museum possesses an outstanding collection of Art Deco pieces, with some particularly fine Art Nouveau furniture. There is also a costume gallery with fashions from the 18th century onwards, a display of old musical instruments, and the excellent Willet Collection of porcelain and ceramics.
The special strength of this costume collection is a collection of examples from the 1920s and 1930s.
Address: Church Street, Brighton BN1 1EE, England

Theater Royal

The neo-Classical Theatre Royal not far from the museum was built in 1806, although the colonnade was not completed for another twenty years. Many famous actors and actresses including the Kembles, Grimaldi and Sarah Siddons have appeared on its stage, a tradition of good theater which is still maintained today.

St Nicholas' Church

At the far end of Church Street, stands the town's original parish church, St Nicholas'. The church itself was begun in the 14th century but the beautiful Norman font, carved with scenes of the Last Supper, the baptism of Christ and the Legend of St Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers, dates from about 1160.

The Lanes

The center of the old fishing village of Brighthelmstone once stood on the site of the narrow alleyways known as The Lanes, where the charming little 17th century cottages have mostly been turned into antique shops, boutiques and cafes. Some of the facades are still "weather boarded", colorfully clad with painted wooden boarding as protection against wind and weather.

Old Steine

The Old Steine, to the east of The Lanes, was at one time the village green. Now it is a well tended square which extends north to Grand Parade - a magnificent boulevard, lined with trees and planted with flowers - and south towards the promenade. When compared with the stately neo-Classical facade of Marlborough House (1786), Maria Fitzherbert's house (1804) with its wrought iron balconies is a perfect illustration of the change of architectural style at the beginning of the 19th century. The same innovation in design is continued by the long rows of Regency houses between Marine Parade and St James Street/St George's Road.

St John the Baptist's Church

A short distance north of St James Street, in Carlton Hill, stands the church of St John the Baptist, with the tomb of George IV's beloved Maria Fitzherbert. Following their separation she lived in seclusion in Brighton until her death.

Palace Pier

The Palace Pier in Brighton.
No more than a few paces from the Old Steine lie the sea front and promenade, set off in spectacular fashion by the long iron pier. The original Chain Pier of 1823, immortalized in a painting by Constable (1827), was wrecked by a storm in 1869, while the West Pier (1866), although still standing, is derelict. Only the 1700ft/520m-long Palace Pier (1891-1899) with its volute ironwork remains in use, jutting out to sea like the upper deck of a steamer on spindly iron legs. The days when the pier was fashionable have long since gone, replaced by a culture of amusement arcades and snack bars.

Magnus Volk's Electric Railway

Magnus Volk's electric railroad (opened in 1833) runs the length of the eastern section of the sea front from near the Palace Pier to Brighton Marina.

Regency Houses

Much pleasure can be had simply by taking a walk through the residential areas of Brighton with their Regency style terraces and squares. West of the center, going towards Hove, are street after street of houses with round bay windows and iron balconies: Regency Square, Brunswick Terrace, Brunswick Square (1825; facing the sea), and the horseshoe shaped Adelaide Crescent. Sussex Square, Lewes Crescent (1824) and Arundel Terrace, all east of the center, are equally worth seeing.
In urban history, these houses are a further development of forms originating in Bath.

Booth Museum of Natural History

Devoted to natural history, the Booth Museum is situated in Dyke Road, in the northwest of Brighton. In addition to an outstanding collection of stuffed birds displayed in their natural habitats, there are butterflies from all over the world and numerous skeletons of extinct species.
Address: 194 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 5AA, England

Preston Manor

This 18th C manor house in Preston Road was the home of the Stanford family. Renovated in 1905 it recaptures the atmosphere of life at the turn of the century as well as being a showcase for antiques from earlier periods.
Address: Church Street, Brighton BN1 1EE, England

Brighton Festival

This annual three-week festival runs from early to late May. International musicians from around the world gather to perform in events ranging from orchestral and church concerts, to jazz and comedy shows, to theater and dance performances. Film screenings and recitals are also among the 400 events offered in this diversified festival. The repertoire is equally varied, although nineteenth-century music predominates.
The venues include the Royal Pavilion, the Theatre Royal and many local churches.
Address: 21-22 Old Steine, Brighton BN1 1EL, England

Piltdown - Walking Trails

The town of Piltdown is home to one of the world's greatest scientific hoaxes. It was here that the supposed missing link was found, only much later to be revealed as a carefully fabricated fraud. A trail leads visitors through the buildings and fields.

Barkham Manor

Barkham Manor is set in 35 acres of rolling countryside. Visitors can take a tour. The 18th century Great Barn is an ideal venue for weddings and special events.

Sea Life Centre

At the Brighton Sea Life Centre visitors can take close-up looks at live sharks, stingrays, starfish and other sea creatures. The underwater viewing tunnel is particularly interesting.

Central Station

The first item that catches a visitor's eye is the vivid red ironwork that spring from slender columns of Central Station.

Sussex Toy and Model Museum

The Sussex Toy and Model Museum in Brighton has over 10,000 items on display. Its exhibition features toys from the world's top toy makers over the last 100 years.
Address: 52-55 Trafalgar Street, Brighton BN1 4EB, England


Hove, England

Dark sky over Hove.
Hove (pop. 82,500) is a suburb of Brighton. The Cricket Club in Hove is the site of county, national and international matches. There are a number of parks in Hove including St. Ann's Well Gardens, with many native and exotic trees.

Newhaven, England

Newhaven, at the mouth of the River Ouse, has a large yacht harbor offering a cross-channel ferry service to Dieppe in France.
Tide Mills in Newhaven was a large tide mill village with workers' cottages that ceased operation in 1900. The Sussex Archaeological Society is working on a project to outline timelines, photographs and videos of the area.

Paradise Family Leisure Park

Garden Paradise is England's leading gardening and horticultural center with over 10,000 plants, trees and shrubs. Other attractions include a natural history museum, dinosaur displays and a miniature railroad.
Address: Avis Road, Newhaven BN9 0DH, England


Newhaven Fort is a 10-acre Victorian coastal fortress. Visitors can wander through underground tunnels and stand by the cannons which were used during the two World Wars. It also offers a military and wartime collection containing displays about the Dieppe Raid and the Normandy Landings.
Address: Fort Road, Newhaven BN9 9DS, England

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