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Exeter... it's a Capital City!
Exeter in general
Member Name: Harleq123
Exeter in general
Date: 13/07/02, updated on 13/07/02 (142 review reads)
Advantages: Historic architecture, friendly atmosphere, many attractions
Disadvantages: Certain areas can be busy, suprising homelessness problem
....well not literally of course! That is the slogan though which Exeter City Council uses to promote the city, and in many ways it is true. Exeter is a small cathedral and university city (perhaps comprobable with Durham) but it has a strong civic identity and is clearly a city which is rightfully proud of itself.
The city has never had a major industry and perhaps this contributes to the air of historical continutiy, interuupted only by the Lufftwaffe in areas of less pleasent post-war architecture on the High Street.
It is an an ancient city though, and its heart has always been the cathedral, which has been a site of worship for 1000s of years having been originally a Roman temple when the city was established and christian worship has been found on the site of the cathedral since it came to Britain. The cathedral is largely Gothic, with a truly magnificent facade, although parts of it are Norman. The area around the cathedral, namely Cathedral Yard and Cathedeal Close are home to some wonderful smaller shop and restaurants (including a good Arab restaurant called Al-Faird) and the sweeping lawns around the cathedral make a wonderful sunbathing spot in the summer, particulary favoured by students.
The Quay is another area of interest in the town, although only small compared to some cities docksides, it is picturesque nonetheless. The quayside is dotted with antique shops, cafes and nightclubs (including the legendery, but frankly awful 'Warehouse'). The dockside was once frequented by the likes of Sir Francis Drake and its not hard to imagine him strolling along the docks, towards another Exeter landmark, the Old Custom House, which is also worth a look.
The High Street has many of the typical chain stores as well, but its crowning glory must be the magnificently ornate Guildhall, a centre of civic pride for the area, and guided tours are available for this attraction. If it is shopping which the visitor seeks then smaller
shops down the winding side-streets are worth looking into. I can particulary reccomend Gandy Street, with shops such as Kitamani (specialising in African products) and Hen's Teeth (specialising in music, film and tv memrobilia) which make a refreshing change from the chain stores.
It is a shame that Exeter's original Norman castle, 'Rougemont' no longer survives, except for a single gatehouse tower, but it is worth visiting anyway, since this is another charming area of the town centre. On Little Castle Street just off the High Street it leads up to the City Courts and Library and also features the 18th Century Rougemont House visitor centre and spectcular gardens, which often play host to out-door plays in the summer. Venturing a little further away from the High Street, down Queen Street you will find the Royal Albert Memomrial Museum, which although relatively small, is housed in a archtypally eleaborate Victorian building and is free and featuring some notable antiquities as well as having regular art exhibitions.
As a student in Exeter I feel privelaged to live in the city, which is both vibrant and cosmopolitan as well as being just minutes from the beautiful countryside of Devon. Finally, I think I should mention that the Council runs an annual 'Exeter Festival' in the summer which features music (such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo) and comedy (including the brilliant Bill Bailey)which will be well worth seeing... just another reason why Exeter is a capital city!