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The magnificent landscape of Country Durham encompasses parts of the Pennines, the North Yorkshire Dales and the National Nature Reserves of Durham's Coastal regions. The impressive natural environment is matched only by the number and quality of historic buildings throughout the region. Raby Castle, an excellent example of defensive and domestic architecture, and The Bowes Museum, completed in 1892 in the style of a French chateau, are just two of the many splendid buildings visitors can enjoy in County Durham. Together, these elements make this one of the most popular destinations with visitors to the north of England.

County Durham is often referred to as "The Land of The Prince Bishops". It was essential that the region retained a strong stance against the aggressions of their Scottish neighbours, and as such it was able to negotiate a unique and independent position during the medieval period. Its strength lay in the fact that it was ruled by the Prince Bishops who were responsible to no one other than the King himself. Based in the Bishops' Palace in Bishop Auckland the Prince Bishops raised their own armies, minted their own coinage and levied their own taxes. The castle at Bishop Auckland has to this day remained the home of the Bishop of Durham although the special privileges have long since been revoked.

Religion was the key element behind the construction of many of the region's best known landmarks. Evidence of the financial strength of the Christian church is reflected in the magnificence of Durham Cathedral, which is considered to be one of Britain's finest examples of Norman Romanesque church architecture. In it are the shrines of the Venerable Bede and Saint Cuthbert both of which proved so popular with pilgrims that an extension was added in the 13th Century. Standing alongside the Cathedral are the Castle, whose foundations were also laid in the Norman period and the University, one of the oldest in the country. They dominate the city in their position high above the River Wear, and to this day continue to capture the imagination of visitors.

In more recent history it was the advent of the railway era, in particular the Darlington to Stockton Railway built in 1825 and the pioneering work of Timothy Hackworth, which maintained Durham's pre-eminence within England. The region's history is recorded in many museums and galleries around the region but of particular note is Beamish Open Air Museum. Covering over 300 acres it records the daily lives of local people through imaginative and interactive displays.

For outdoor enthusiasts there is plenty to see and visit. Derwent Reservoir nestles impressively in the moorland country park and presents a number of opportunities for visitors to enjoy water sports and activities. Whilst to the east, Castle Eden Dene is a picturesque area of natural woodland covering 550 acres and comprising of 12 miles of paths for visitors to enjoy. In addition, High Force Waterfall, in Middleton-in-Teesdale, is just one of the region's outstanding natural features. These are just some of the attractions which make County Durham one of the most diverse and popular regions in England.


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