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St Michael's Mount

View of Castle and Church on St Michael's Mount, with blue sky
© Shutterstock / Rolf E. Staerk
One of Cornwall's most notable landmarks is the priory and castle known as St Michael's Mount.

Reached by a tidal causeway, or by boat when the tide is high, the impressive rocky St Michael's Mount Island is in Marazion Bay.

It is one of the National Trust's most visited attractions offering sub-tropical gardens and tours of the historic home.

View of St. Michael's Mount Castle from below
© Shutterstock / Shelli Jenson
St Michael's Mount has been the home of the St Aubyn family for over 300 years, but the castle itself dates back over 900 years. 

Around the small harbour are various cottages and estate buildings which now house the Sail Loft Restaurant, Gift Shop and Island Café.

There are two former inns and an old mackerel smoking house as part of the old village.

Visiting St Michael's Mount

Distant view of St Michael's Mount with sea in foreground
© Shutterstock / Mike Charles
If the tide is low visitors can walk across the cobbled granite causeway from the beach near the Godolphin Arms and then climb the zigzag path through the gardens to reach the castle, which is 230 feet above sea level.

Causeway from St Michael's Mount to Marazion only passable at low tide
© Shutterstock / Mike Charles
You will probably have to return by boat when a small additional fee is charged.

The gardens are beautifully planted with rare succulents and plants that thrive in the salty sea air.

They are so steep in places they have to be tended by abseiling gardeners!

Visitors should look out for the huge stone beside the path known as the Giant's Heart which relates to a local legend.

St Michael's Mount History

The best way to learn more about the history of the castle and its former owners is by taking a guided tour of the mediaeval castle.

St Michael's Mount Port, with tide out
© Shutterstock / Rolf E. Staerk
Built in the 12th century as a fortified home, the history of this self-contained community is fascinating. The island has experienced an earthquake, sieges and survived the Civil War.

It was part of a beacon system that warned of the approach of the Spanish Armada back in 1588.

Highlights of St Michael's Mount

As part of a guided tour, learn how supplies are transported up to the castle from the harbour using an underground tram.

Ancient sundial on the castle walls of Saint Michael's Mount
© Shutterstock / elena moiseeva
The rooms vary in style; some being comfortably furnished as a family home while others are more castle-like with tiny slit windows and suits of armour.

Children are sure to find the castle-like elements fascinating.

St Michaels Mount and Marazion at sunset
© Shutterstock / ian woolcock
They can climb the spiral staircase in the turret, enjoy wonderful coastal views from the battlements or explore the defensive pill box structures in the gardens.

Priory History

At one time the castle was a religious priory, similar to the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.

St Michael's Mount, Marazion, Cornwall bathed in light of orange sunset
© Shutterstock / Snowshill
Its former use is reflected in the 15th century priory church which is part of the castle.

It has a historic lantern cross and a beautiful rose window in stained glass.

View of causeway and mainland coast from St Michael's Mount
© Shutterstock / Rolf E. Staerk
A library, map room and the portrait gallery show this as a family home and the wonderful hunting scenes painted on a frieze in the Chevy Chase Room are superb.

Historian-led walks can be enjoyed around the harbour and village and retell the life of the 300-strong community who once serviced the residents of the fortress and priory.

View of port and causeway from St Michael's Mount
© Shutterstock / Gonzalo Sanchez
A recent discovery on this ancient site includes a Bronze Age axe head and dagger which were only uncovered in 2009.

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On Foot

At low tide, you can cross the causeway to St Michael’s Mount on foot. Starting from the beachfront at the Godolphin Arms in Marazion, it is a short walk across the bay from the mainland to the island.

Daily causeway opening times can be found on the St Michael's Mount Website.

By Boat (Tue & Fri only)

When the tide is in, you can take a trip on the St Michael's Mount amphibious vehicle, which leaves from the Slipway car-park in Marazion, some of which are timed to coincide with the guided tours of the castle.

Boat charges

£2.00 adult (one way)
£1.00 children (one way)

St Michael's Mount Postcode for SatNav: TR17 0EF


+44 (0)1736 710265

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