Portland, England, United Kingdom

Portland Harbour is one of the largest man-made harbors in the world. It was constructed between 1848 and 1905 by building breakwaters of the durable, beautiful Portland stone that is the primary reason UNESCO has designated this stretch of the Dorset and Devon English Channel shore as the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. The fossil-rich sedimentary limestone is a renowned building material used in such high-profile structures as St. Paul’s Cathedral and the United Nations Headquarters. The harbor was an important Royal Navy base for nearly a century, but today is given over to civilian uses, including some activities of the 2012 Olympic Games. Romans stayed here, and Portland was the site of the first recorded Viking raid in Britain, in 787. Henry VIII built a castle there to deter the French in 1539, and Christopher Wren used Portland stone extensively in reconstructing London after the Great Fire of 1661. The point called Portland Bill is a notorious spot for tricky currents, and boasts three lighthouses. Nearby Weymouth is a venerable and popular seaside resort with a long history. Its Esplanade is a veritable open-air museum of Georgian and Regency buildings, including the Jubilee Clock erected in 1887 to honor Queen Victoria on her 60-year reign. One favorite way to experience the coast is to take the Railway Walk, which follows the defunct rail line three and a half kilometers between Weymouth and Portland, passing close the ruins of King Henry’s Sandsfoot Castle.