A £1.25 million heritage epicentre will link several historic sites in Durham including the Botanic Garden, the Oriental Museum and the Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology in a one-stop guide to the UNESCO World Heritage Site on its 25th anniversary.
The World Heritage Site Visitor Centre will help visitors find out more about the Claustral Buildings and Treasures of St Cuthbert in the cathedral and the Wolfson Gallery in the University’s Palace Green Library, using interactive features and technology in the working building in the former Durham University Almshouse.
“The new Visitor Centre provides opportunities for visitors and residents alike to learn more as they explore the World Heritage Site and all it entails,” said Reverend Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of the city.
“Durham is a unique place, steeped in history. Durham Cathedral has a long tradition of offering hospitality to pilgrims as they visit the Shrine of St Cuthbert, the Tomb of the Venerable Bede and marvel at the architecture. It is often referred to as the greatest Romanesque building in Europe.
“There are so many stories to tell about the Cathedral, the Norman Castle, the wider peninsula and the communities that have formed Durham today. “
Melanie Sensicle, of Visit County Durham, said the centre would aid efforts to help tourists make the most of the area.
“Millions of visitors come to Durham every year,” she explained.
“Research tells us that that the provision of information and orientation are important to ensure visitor satisfaction, so the opening of the Visitor Centre is fantastic news for Durham.
“The Visitor Centre is a great addition to the wealth of things to do in Durham, strengthening the city’s offer by enabling visitors to learn, see and do more.”
The centre will be a working building, hosting a range of activities, performance and exhibitions which will start with Our Living World Heritage Site, a photography show by students and local artist Andrew Heptinstall.
It will also provide a base for the university’s Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Durham Student Theatre.