One of Yorkshire’s prized abbeys has been named among the nation’s tourism jewels after being voted one of Britain’s leading World Heritage sites.
The hugely popular travel internet site TripAdvisor has published the top 10 most popular UNESCO World Heritage locations, with Fountains Abbey and the surrounding Studley Royal estate in North Yorkshire securing the third spot.
Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire picked up first place, with the Orkney Islands named in the second spot in the poll. Ironbridge Gorge was the runner-up in the global top 10, beaten only by Potala Palace in Lhasa in China.
The results are based on more than 1.1m traveller feedback forms, collected in partnership with UNESCO, making this the largest study of its kind ever conducted.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, Gary Verity, claimed the poll vindicated the reputation that has been carved out by Fountains Abbey, which was became a National Trust property in 1983.
Mr Verity said: “We are thrilled but not surprised that Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey are among the most recommended UNESCO World Heritage sites in the UK.
“We’ve always known it’s one of the finest in the country but now more than one million tourists have made it official by their votes. It’s a must see visitor destination and we are proud to have it right here in Yorkshire.”
The abbey, which was founded in 1132, ranked higher than Gwynedd in Wales, Bath, Durham and Edinburgh as well as Canterbury Cathedral, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales and Westminster Abbey in London in the UK poll.
The general manager at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Chris Fowler, said: “The National Trust is absolutely thrilled that Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal has been voted alongside such culturally diverse and significant places across the UK and, of course, the world.”
There were a record 357,000 visitors to the abbey last year, and it ranks as the third most visited site of the National Trust’s 400 properties across the country. TripAdvisor and UNESCO joined forces in 2009 to raise awareness and gain the support of travellers to preserve World Heritage sites. The only other World Heritage site in the Yorkshire region is Saltaire, near Bradford.