Top historic sites in Isle of Man

Manx Museum

The Manx Museum is bursting with artefacts and treasures unique to the Isle of Man. The Island’s 10,000 year history is presented through film, galleries and interactive displays. The perfect starting point on your journey of discovery around our Island and its Viking and Celtic past. The museum opened in 1922, in a building that was formerly Noble"s Old Hospital. It was expanded and remodeled during 1986-89.
Founded: 1922 | Location: Douglas, United Kingdom

Rushen Abbey

Originally home for monks of the Savignac order, Rushen Abbey soon came under Cistercian control and remained so until its dissolution. The abbey is located two miles from Castle Rushen, the politically most important site on the island in medieval times. The abbey was founded in 1134, under Óláfr Guðrøðarson's control. He granted the land to Savignac monks from Furness Abbey. In 1147 the abbey came under ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Ballasalla, United Kingdom

Castle Rushen

Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre. The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Castletown, United Kingdom

Peel Castle

Peel Castle was originally constructed by Vikings. The castle stands on St Patrick's Isle which is connected to the town by a causeway. It is open to visitors during the summer. The castle was built in the 11th century by the Vikings, under the rule of King Magnus Barefoot. While there were older stone Celtic monastic buildings on the island, the first Viking fortifications were built of wood. The prominent round ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Peel, United Kingdom

St Michael's Isle

St Michael"s Isle, popularly referred to as Fort Island, is noted for its attractive ruins. There is evidence for human activity on the island from the Mesolithic period onwards and there are two ancient buildings on the island. Both are in a state of ruin and closed to the public, though there are a number of walks which allow visitors to explore the surroundings. St Michael"s Chapel, a 12th-century chapel, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Derbyhaven, United Kingdom

Mull Hill

Mull Hill (also called Meayll Hill) is a small hill at the southern end of the Isle of Man, just outside the village of Cregneash. It is the site of a chambered cairn called Meayll Circle. Near the summit of the hill also lie the remains of a World War II Chain Home Low RDF station. Mull Hill Stone Circle is a unique archaeological monument. It consists of 12 burial chambers placed in a ring, with 6 entrance pass ...
Founded: 3500 BC | Location: Cregneash, United Kingdom

St. German's Cathedral Ruins

The ruins located within the walls of Peel Castle are those of the former Cathedral of St German. Like the structures throughout the castle grounds, the cathedral's roof is completely missing. Robert Anderson examined the ruins to determine what repairs were required to restore the cathedral, and he reported to the island's Lieutenant Governor in 1877. However, none of the suggested repairs were carried out. There is ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Peel, United Kingdom

St. Adamnan's Church

St Adamnan"s Church is situated in an isolated position, surrounded by open farmland on the eastern coast of the island, between Groudle Glen and Baldrine. The eastern (and oldest) part of the church has been restored, but it is otherwise in a ruinous, though well-tended, condition. St Adamnan was the Abbot of Iona between 679 and 704. The site on which the church stands is of ancient religious significance. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Douglas, United Kingdom

Balladoole

Just outside of Castletown, Balladoole is one of the Isle of Man’s most impressive ancient monuments. Balladoole has been the site of many excavations that have revealed a number of significant finds including prehistoric flints, Bronze Age burials, Iron Age earthworks and early Christian lintel graves. A Viking boat burial which dates back to between 850-950 AD was discovered in 1945 by a German refugee and a team ...
Founded: 850-950 AD | Location: Castletown, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.