Sitting on the south coast of England, Southampton first came to be known as a prominent port town around the 11th century, when it served as the primary port of transit between Winchester (at capital of England at the time) and Normandy. Over the ensuing years, the city also developed a major shipbuilding industry. Maritime history is incredibly rich here: Both the Mayflower and Speedwell set sail from this port in the 1600s. In 1912, the Titanic set forth on its maiden voyage from Southampton, only to collide with in iceberg and sink to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 1,500-plus passengers who died in that disaster, over 500 were natives of Southampton. Today, the harbour still defines much of Southampton's character, and fuels its economy. Numerous luxury cruise liners operate out of the port here, and it's also an important container port.
things to do
Ocean Village and the area around the waterfront are, as expected, a bustling destination for travellers in search of food, drink, and entertainment. The Southampton Maritime Museum is a popular stop, housing relics and exhibits devoted to the history of the port and the great ships that called it home. The worldwide box-office frenzy that accompanied the "Titanic" film has increased foot traffic here. The museum has photos of the many local crew members on the doomed vessel, and also features letters from passengers and other artifacts. The Red Lion is a perennial dining and drinking favorite, dating back to the 13th century.
Many visitors to Southampton choose to drive their hire car to nearby attractions, such as New Forest, the Isle of Wight, and Bournemouth. The idyllic coastline of Dorset is a popular destination for those on holiday. Its "Jurassic Coast" is a World Heritage Site (the first in the UK) and home to 180 million years of geological history. Neighbouring Isle of Wight is also a leading destination for travellers, particularly those in search of a wildlife-oriented or historically-focussed holiday. Isle of Wight owns a rich natural heritage, and is home to many rare and protected species of wildlife.
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