From exquisite ceilings to sky-high natural marvels and the stars themselves, here are...
10 things worth looking up for…
Giant’s Causeway Organ Pipes, Northern Ireland
The remarkable polygonal forms of the Giant’s Causeway are well-known. Less famous but equally impressive are the ‘Organ Pipes’, a curious and massive formation of basalt that reach high into the air like an enormous church organ. To see them, take the lower coastal path from the main causeway.
The Topless ladies of Plas Mawr, Conwy, Wales
Probably the best-preserved Elizabethan townhouse in Britain, Plas Mawr was built and elaborately decorated by wealthy Welsh merchant Robert Wynn. Look closely above the fireplace in the hall and you’ll see brightly painted plaster flowers, the initials RW and a number of rather prim-faced topless ladies.
Millennium Stadium roof, Cardiff, Wales
Dominating the city from above, the magnificent Millennium Stadium is the home of Welsh rugby and an iconic addition to the Cardiff skyline. Its vast retractable roof takes 20 minutes to open or close, features 200,000 nuts and bolts and costs just £2.54 to operate each time. Take a tour to see the mighty roof as well as the dressing rooms, the players’ tunnel and the pitch itself.
Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden, Carmarthenshire, Wales
The Great Glasshouse is the largest single span glasshouse in the world. Floating above the Welsh landscape like a giant raindrop, it shields and conserves some of the most endangered plants on the planet. Walking under its huge span, you’ll cross countries and continents in a few steps as you discover dazzling flora from six areas of the world.
Painted Hall of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, England
At the heart of Christopher Wren’s riverside Old Royal Naval College is what’s been described as the finest dining hall in Europe. The 18th-century ceiling paintings by James Thornhill took 19 years to complete and show an allegorical theme of the triumph of Peace and Liberty over Tyranny. Look out for figures representing the seasons and the continents – Pocahontas is thought to represent America.
The canopy of the British Museum’s Great Court, London, England
Designed by celebrity architect Norman Foster, the soaring roof of the British Museum’s Great Court encloses the largest public covered square in Europe. It’s a triumph of design constructed out of 3,312 panes of glass, no two of which are the same. The space below is flooded with natural light and provides a fitting centre-point to one of the world’s great collections of art and antiquities.
The Bridge of Aspiration, Covent Garden, London, England
Look up from Floral Street in the heart of Covent Garden and you’ll see the twisting ‘Bridge of Aspiration’. It provides the dancers of the Royal Ballet School with a direct link to the Grade 1 listed Royal Opera House and though remarkably modern, it compliments the older buildings it unites.
Stargazing in Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Wrap up warm and gaze heavenward in Galloway Forest Park, one of the best places for stargazing in the world. It was named the first Dark Sky Park in the United Kingdom, and only the second in Europe. With practically no light pollution you can see around 7,000 stars as well as the magical sweep of the Milky Way.
The Marble Hall of Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, Scotland
In the Marble Hall of this Victorian Gothic mansion, look up and you will see 'the stars in their courses' mapped above you, as well as remarkable stained glass windows depicting the signs of the zodiac. The stunningly realised astronomical signs rising 80 feet above the hall were commissioned by the Marquess of Bute and are rumoured to contain hidden mystical symbols.
The stained glass window of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool, England
Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cathedral’s distinctive upturned funnel shape is crowned with one of the largest coloured windows in the world. Designed by artists John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens in 1962, it’s made from over 17,000 pieces of coloured glass and baths the calm space below in heavenly blues and purples. At night the lantern window is lit from inside, creating a beacon which shines above the city.