The Isle of Man has long been a haven for wealthy Brits and fans of Tourist Trophy (TT) motorbike racing, but its capital city of Douglas offers something for everyone. A unique blend of busy working harbor, traditional seaside resort and bustling financial center, the city is the island's largest town and offers a huge variety of things to do.
Set on a sandy beach and two-mile sweeping bay, the city is filled with buzzing promenades alive with activity. Since 1876, horse trams have been one of the best ways to explore Douglas. A testimony to Victorian engineering, the trams were first developed to take advantage of the growing tourist trade. Today, they still carry locals and tourists along the promenades during the summer season. Twenty-one of the original carriages operate on the three-foot gauge tramway, and the two-mile journey offers stunning views of the sea.
The horses that pull the trams are called “trammers” and work for an average of 15 years. They retire to the Home of Rest for Old Horses, and visitors there can meet a number of the old trammers. A small museum details their history, the on-site cafe serves up local treats and visitors can even feed the animals bits of carrots and apples.
Douglas is a great place to explore the interesting heritage of the Isle of Man. Many of the most iconic sites are located on the Story of Mann Trail, beginning at the Manx Museum. The interactive displays, wide range of exhibits and films detail the famous TT races, Viking finds, wartime on the island and the natural wonders of the world. The included National Art Gallery showcases works from John Miller Nicholson, William Hoggatt, Archibald Knox and a handful of other celebrated artists.
Douglas Head is home to one of the only camera obscura in all of the British Isles. Built in the 1890s for the flourishing tourist industry, the masterpiece relies on a series of lenses and mirrors to work, projecting 360-degree views of the surrounding area, including the lighthouse, harbor and horizon.
The Isle of Man is known for its Manx kippers, and Douglas is the perfect place to sample the famous dish of smoked herring. The many restaurants in town use methods perfected and preserved over centuries to create delectable dishes of freshly-caught Queen Scallops, crab and lobster. Pair the succulent seafood with one of the island's award-winning ales, then savor the local ice cream made with only the purest Isle of Man milk.
Just ten kilometers from the capital is the village of Laxey, set in a deep valley and home to the world's largest working waterwheel. Designed in 1854 by Robert Casement, the wheel stands over 72 feet tall and has been one of the island's most popular attractions for over 150 years. Nicknamed “Lady Isabella,” the waterwheel offers panoramic views of the spectacular Glen Mooar Valley.
The picturesque village is also home to the Great Laxey Mine Railway, where visitors can ride in tiny carriages through the route once used to carry zinc and iron from the nearby mines. The quarter-mile track passes through the longest tunnel on the island and takes visitors past mine yards, two waterwheels and a carriage shed.
Douglas Geographical Location
Douglas is the largest city in the Isle of Man and is located on its southeast coast at the mouth of the River Douglas.
The population of Douglas is approximately 26,300 people.
English is the predominant language spoken in the Isle of Man however it is a Manx dialect.
Douglas Predominant Religion
Protestant and Roman Catholic are the two predominant religions of the Isle of Man although percentages were not published in the most recent census.
The official currency of the Isle of Man is the pound sterling.
Douglas is normally wet during the warm summer months and experiences dry, mild winters.
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