Many of the attractions in Glastonbury are associated with myths and legends, its New Age image, and, of course, the Glastonbury Festival. The Joseph of Arimathea legend relates to the idea that Glastonbury was the birthplace of Christianity in the British isles, and that the first British church was built there at Joseph’s behest to house the Holy Grail, 30 years or so after the death of Jesus. Joseph is said to have arrived in Glastonbury by boat over the flooded Somerset Levels. On disembarking he stuck his staff into the ground, which flowered miraculously into the Glastonbury Thorn (or Holy Thorn). This is said to explain the existence of a hybrid hawthorn tree that only grows within a few miles of Glastonbury.
Then there is the legend of King Arthur. It is suggested that Glastonbury was the legendary Isle of Avalon. Also, according to some versions of the legend, it was Glastonbury Abbey to which Lancelot retreated in penance following the death of King Arthur. It is thought that King Arthur and Queen Gwenivere were buried nearby.
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Glastonbury co-exists as a center of Christian tradition and heritage, and a center of mysticism and paganism. The town has many New Age and alternative shops, often featuring books on magic and other associated items. Close to the center are the atmospheric ruins of Glastonbury Abbey which are well worth a visit. Also, close by are the beautiful Chalice Well Gardens.
Other attractions in Glastonbury include the Rural life museum which gives an insight into farming methods down the ages. The Glastonbury Lake Village Museum provides a unique insight into life in the Iron Age. At the nearby Peat, Moors Centre displays include full-size reconstruction of 3 Iron Age Roundhouses from the Lake Village.
Glastonbury itself is dominated by the Tor, the hill that rises up from the otherwise flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. Fantastic views can be had from the summit marked by the ruins of St Michael’s church.
The Glastonbury Festival is actually held in the village of Pilton a few miles away, every June. This music festival has been held every year since 1970 and is world-renowned.
Attractions in Glastonbury are many and varied. The atmosphere of this unique town will make for a memorable visit.