Top historic sites in Guernsey

Town Church

Originally known as Sancti Petri de Portu, many regard the Town Church as the Cathedral Church and the finest in the Channel Islands. The first mention of the church in official documents was in 1048 when it is thought to have been given to the Abbot of Marmoutier by William of Normandy. It is likely that the original building was made of wood. The current building was built over a 200 year period with the chancel complet ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Castle Cornet

Formerly a tidal island, Cornet Rock was first fortified as a castle between 1206 and 1256, following the division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204. In 1339 when a French force captured the island and occupied it for several years, Cornet was besieged and captured, and the garrison massacred. With the advent of cannon and gunpowder, the castle was remodelled between 1545 and 1548. Prof. John Le Patourel, in The Building o ...
Founded: 1206-1256 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Little Chapel

The Little Chapel created in July 1914 by Brother Déodat. He planned to create a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes, the Rosary Basilica. It has been said that it is the smallest functioning chapel in Europe, if not the world, and it is believed to be the world’s smallest consecrated church. The chapel was originally 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide. After taking criticism from other brother ...
Founded: 1914 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Fort Grey

Fort Grey is a Martello tower located on a rock in Rocquaine Bay. It was previously the site of local witches' Sabbaths. The existing fort, with its white tower was originally built as a defence by the British in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars, it was named after Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey, who was Governor of Guernsey from 1797 to 1807. The Fort Grey tower, like the other two Guernsey Martello towers, Fort Saumarez an ...
Founded: 1804 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Sausmarez Manor

The first mention of the de Sausmarez family in Guernsey is at the consecration of the Vale church in 1115 followed by a letter dated 1254 in which Prince Edward, Lord of the Isles, afterwards King Edward I, ordered an enquiry into the rights of the Abbot and Monks of St. Michel to 'wreck' in the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey. Of this oldest manor house only a fragment remains. Its rough but remarkably solid st ...
Founded: 1873 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Victoria Tower

Victoria Tower is a monument erected in honor of a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to the island in 1846. As the 1846 royal visit was the first time a reigning monarch had ever visited the island, a small granite stone was laid to mark where the queen had first stepped ashore in St Peter Port harbour. The following year, the architect William Colling was asked to draw up plans for a tower to commemorate the mona ...
Founded: 1848 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Castel Church

Pagans, Pirates and Romans have all been linked with the site now occupied by Castel Church. Outside the main door can be seen the Neolithic Statue Menhir found under the floor of the church during the 19th century. At its foot lie the stone seats for the official of the medieval court of Fief St Michel. The church of ‘Our Lady of Deliverance’ to use its ancient title, was first mentioned in a papal document d ...
Founded: 1155 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Fort Hommet

Fort Hommet (or Fort Houmet) was built on the site of fortifications dating back to 1680, and consists of a Martello tower from 1804, later additions during the Victorian Era, and bunkers and casemates that the Germans constructed during World War II. The Martello tower was constructed after the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, and during the tenure (1803-1813) of Lieutenant GovernorGeneral Sir John Doyle. To simplify matte ...
Founded: 1804 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

La Varde Passage Grave

La Varde is an 11m long bottle shaped passage grave with 6 capstones and a small oval recess towards the rear. It dates back to Neolithic Age (3000-2500 BC). Originally covered by a mound 18m in diameter and a peristalith. The mound has been partially restored and two capstones are supported by modern pillars. Two layers of paving were recorded above and between which burnt and unburnt human bones, limpet shells and pebbl ...
Founded: 3000-2500 BC | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

St. Saviour's Church

St. Saviour"s is the largest of the Guernsey country churches and stands at the top of a valley overlooking the reservoir. Part of this impressive church was built in the 12th century but most of it dates to the 14th and 15th centuries. It took five months to construct and was dedicated and consecrated on 30 May 1154. However, the first mention of St Saviour"s Church is in a charter from about 1030. On Sunday ...
Founded: 1154 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Vale Church

Vale Church is one of Guernsey"s most ancient churches and a former priory. Somewhere around A.D. 968, monks, from the Benedictine monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, came to Guernsey to establish a community in the North of the Island. This area of Guernsey would form a separate island at high tide, and continued to do so until 1806. The last remaining stonework is a piece of buttressed wall to the South of the church, by th ...
Founded: c. 968 AD | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Le Déhus

Le Déhus is a fine Neolithic bottle shaped Passage Chamber with four side chambers off the entrance passage. Today there are six side chambers but two were erronously constructed during restoration. Side chamber first on the right was found to contain the bones of two individuals, kneeling side by side and facing in opposite directions, their bodies being supported by tightly packed earth and shells. The sixth cap ...
Founded: 3500 - 2000 BC | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

St. Sampson's Church

St. Sampson"s Church is dedicated to Samson of Dol, who brought Christianity to Guernsey in about 550 AD. Claimed to be the oldest Parish Church in the Island, the church stands on or near the site where St Sampson first landed as a pioneer missionary from Dol, in Brittany, about the year 550 AD, and has been a Christian site for worship ever since. The present church dates from the 12th century, at which time it co ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.