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St Andrews: Golf, History and Gowns

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Uni, Love, and Sport

Thank goodness the English heir to the throne, Prince William, decided to study in the Scottish town of St Andrews in 2001! After all, this is where he met the love of his life, Kate Middleton – and the rest, as we all know, is Royal history. However, while this little town may forever be associated with these two lovebirds, it has much more to offer. St Andrews, situated approximately 80 kilometres to the northeast of Edinburgh, ranks among Scotland’s oldest and most beautiful towns and is known for two particular things: its famous university and the sport of golf. Another bonus point: Architecturally, this town on North Sea is a feast for the eyes.

Picturesque Ruins

“Welcome to the Middle Ages” – this thought might cross visitors’ minds as they drive through one of the two gates, West Port or Sea Yett, into the centre of St Andrews. Dark granite structures and historical buildings shape the townscape. The place became a bishop’s see in the year 903 and, as you may have guessed, was named after Saint Andrew. The remains of St Andrews Cathedral, with its 33-meter-high tower, and St Andrews Castle should not be missed. The ruins, featuring tunnels and dungeons, tower high above the water and bore witness to the altercations between Catholics and Protestants. The university buildings scattered throughout the entire town also make for impressive sights.

Renown and Robes

The University of St Andrews was founded in 1413, making it one of the three oldest and best universities in the United Kingdom alongside Oxford and Cambridge. About half of the approximately 20,000 inhabitants of St Andrews are students. Accordingly, the town offers plenty of leisure opportunities, from sport and debate clubs through to cafes and pubs, allowing students to take their minds off the stress of their studies. Keep an eye out for the students’ red robes. They wear these gowns on festive occasions, for exams and walks such as the Pier Walk – the traditional stroll across the pier by the sea.

The Home of Golf

In the summer, the sea brings students and locals together: Everyone heads to the kilometre-long West Sands Beach for a swim. Right behind this beach you will find the St Andrews Links, one of the biggest golf facilities in the world. Situated just north of the city centre, this facility also houses the most famous and oldest course: The Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Allegedly, golf balls rolled across the green here as early as 1552, which is why St Andrews is considered worldwide to be the birthplace of the sport of golf. Every year, this course hosts more than 200,000 rounds of golf, and many golfers dream of teeing off on the legendary Old Course just once in their lifetime.

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