British things to look up at - Culture - Things to do -

Ceilings, Stars and High Places

Raise your eyes and prepare to be amazed


The roof of the Great Court

British Museum, London


From exquisite ceilings to sky-high natural marvels and the stars themselves, here are 8 things worth looking up at in Britain…

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.

Find out more about the Giant’s Causeway

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.

Find out more about the Millennium Stadium

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.

Find out more about the National Botanic Garden

Painted Hall of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London

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.

Find out more about the Painted Hall

The canopy of the British Museum’s Great Court, London

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.

Find out more about the British Museum

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.

Find out more about Galloway Forest Park

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.

Find out more about Mount Stuart

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.

Find out more about Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral