At the height of the spice trade, when its wharves and stores were thick with the aroma of exotic spices from the East, Old Portsmouth (named then ‘Spice Island’) was a place of dread and danger. Throughout Europe it was infamous for its hundreds of pubs and brothels.

To defend the entrance to the Portsmouth Harbour, Henry V, around 1417, ordered the building of the Round Tower. The Square Tower dates from the time of Henry VII, and was originally the official residence of the town’s military governor. It later became Portsmouth’s main powder magazine and in 1642, during the civil war, Governor Goring, who was loyal to the king, surrendered Portsmouth to Commonwealth troops. In order to defend the five-thousand barrels of gunpowder stored inside he hurled the keys into the sea.

Both Towers have become the traditional points for farewells as warships and merchantmen ease through the narrow harbour entrance. The Round Tower is such a popular vantage point that a viewfinder has been installed to help visitors identify landmarks.

Home to the British Royal Navy for more than 500 years, Portsmouth’s mix of historic ships, castles, forts and museums make it the perfect place to explore the history of this sea-faring nation, and there is nowhere better to start than the National Museum of the Royal Navy, one of the world’s leading maritime museums.

Dates, images and artefacts tell us about events, the real drama is in the experiences of the men and women who were there. Visitors can hear their stories and enter their world, learning history in fun ways with costumed interpreters, games, dressing-up, crafts, trails and talks. There’s space for children to explore, including indoor attractions to cater for that ever changing British weather!

The Mary Rose Museum provides one of the most significant insights into Tudor life in the world and creates the centrepiece to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The hull of Mary Rose was raised from the Solent in 1982, 437 years after she sank in full view of King Henry VIII on 19th July, 1545, and part of a breath- taking day out for every member of the family.

The Mary Rose is the only sixteenth century warship on display anywhere in the world and the new museum finally reunites it with many of the 19,000 artefacts raised from the wreck in an on-going £35 million heritage project. Each object in the new museum – from human fleas to giant guns - was raised from the seabed and carefully conserved through a ground- breaking process that is still on-going.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is also home to HMS Victory, National Museum of the Royal Navy, HMS Warrior 1860, Action Stations and Harbour Tours for a truly memorable maritime day out. See for more information and tickets.

The Emirates Spinnaker Tower experience now starts on ground level with a new animated film introducing many of the personalities that make Portsmouth the great waterfront city it is today. Then travel to 100 metres above sea level to enjoy breath-taking views of the historic Portsmouth Harbour and beyond. The outlook stretches up to 23 miles across the South Coast from the panoramic windows.

Dare to walk on air across the glass floor Sky Walk and explore the 1700 years of history encapsulated in the views with the interactive i-VIEW screens and the free audio guides!

Discover the open-air Sky Deck to feel the wind in your hair or the sun on your back, then relax and enjoy refreshments in the Café in the Clouds, 105 metres above sea level, or the Waterfront Café.

A Spinnaker Tower ticket entitles you to unlimited day return visits to enjoy stunning sunsets, changing weather patterns and bustling harbour activity.

Portsmouth has touched the lives and works of many of England’s most famous writers, but the city’s most famous son, Charles Dickens, is celebrated at the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum on Commercial Road. The house faithfully re-creates the Regency style, which Charles’s parents would have favoured and displays memorabilia such as his inkwell and paper knife, poignant reminders of an author celebrated for his prodigious talents and creative output.

Mary Rose Museum 36 Although the boundary between Portsmouth and Southsea seems The Tourist Handbook Wessex 2018-19

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