Touring Coventry Cathedral
Consecrated in 1962, Sir Basil Spence's controversial Coventry Cathedral, 7 Priory Row (tel. 024/7652-1200; www.coventrycathedral.org.uk), is the city's main attraction. The cathedral is on the same site as the 14th-century Perpendicular building, and you can visit the original tower. Many locals maintain that the structure is more likely to be appreciated by the foreign visitor because Brits are more attached to traditional cathedral design. Some visitors consider the restored site one of the most poignant and religiously evocative modern churches in the world.
Outside is Sir Jacob Epstein's bronze masterpiece, St. Michael Slaying the Devil. Inside, the outstanding feature is the 21m-high (70-ft.) altar tapestry by Graham Sutherland, said to be the largest in the world. The floor-to-ceiling abstract stained-glass windows are the work of the Royal College of Art. The West Screen (an entire wall of stained glass installed during the 1950s) depicts rows of stylized saints and prophets with angels flying among them.
In the undercroft of the cathedral is a visitor center, the Walkway of Holograms, whose otherwise plain walls are accented with three-dimensional images of the Stations of the Cross, created with reflective light. One of the most evocative objects here is a charred cross wired together by local workmen from burning timbers that crashed to the cathedral's floor during the Nazi bombing. An audiovisual exhibit on the city and church includes the fact that 450 aircraft dropped 40,000 firebombs on the city in 1 day.
The cathedral is open daily from 9am to 5pm; the tower is open during summer months when staff availability permits. A donation of £3.50 per person is suggested for adults for entrance to the cathedral; tower admission is £2.50 adults, £1 children 5 to 15.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.