Thomas Becket's murder at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 led to the cathedral becoming a place of pilgrimage for Christians worldwide. This pilgrimage assisted the idea for Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th-century literary classic The Canterbury Tales.
Old architecture that still exists in Canterbury includes a city wall established in Roman times and rebuilt in the 14th century, a Norman Castle, St Augustine's Abbey ruins, and possibly the oldest school in England, The King's School. The ruins of the Norman Canterbury Castle and St Augustine's Abbey are both open to the public and the medieval St Margaret's Church now houses the "The Canterbury Tales". Modern additions include the Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Kent, the St Lawrence Ground - Kent County Cricket Club's abode and the Marlowe Theatre.
In 1931 the famous Mahatma Gandhi visited Canterbury and in the 1980's Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II visited, and the yearly Canterbury Festival started. In 1830 the city became home to the world’s first passenger railway.
Between 1999 and 2005, the Whitefriars shopping centre underwent major redevelopment. In 2000, during the redevelopment, a major archaeological project was undertaken by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, known as the Big Dig, which was supported by Channel Four's Time Team.
In 1982 the middle aged St Alphege church became disused but had a new lease of life as the Canterbury Urban Studies Centre, later renamed the Canterbury Environment Centre; the building is used by the King's School. The Old Synagogue at Canterbury, now the King's School Music Room, is one of only two Egyptian Revival synagogues still remaining. The city centre contains many timber-framed 16th- and 17th -century houses, including the "Old Weaver's House" used by the Huguenots.
St Martin's Mill is the only surviving mill out of the six known to have stood in Canterbury. It was built in 1817 and worked until 1890; it is now a house conversion.
Marlowe Theatre is named after Christopher Marlowe. The old Marlowe Theatre was situated in St Margaret's Street and contained a repertory theatre. The Gulbenkian Theatre is at the University grounds. The Marlowe Theatre has now been completely rebuilt, fully opening in October 2011. The oldest surviving Tudor theatre in Canterbury is now Casey's Bar, formerly known as The Shakespeare Pub. The Marlowe Theatre will develop into the largest theatre in the region, administering touring productions and concerts. The programme will include musicals, drama, ballet, contemporary dance, classical orchestras, opera, children's shows, pantomime, stand-up comedy and concerts. A secondary performance area called The Marlowe Studio will be dedicated to creative activity and the programming of new work, offering a riverside terrace, three bars with views of the city and a restaurant.
The Canterbury Sound or Canterbury Scene is a musical genre in Canterbury, a group of progressive rock, avant-garde and jazz musicians established within the city during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some very notable Canterbury bands were Soft Machine, Caravan, Matching Mole, Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Gilgamesh, Soft Heap, Khan, Camel and In Cahoots. The University of Kent has hosted concerts by bands including The Who and Led Zeppelin.
A regular dance and music venue is the Westgate Hall. Every two weeks in October The Canterbury Festival proceeds in Canterbury and the surrounding towns. It includes a wide range of musical events ranging from world music, jazz, opera and symphony concerts, folk, etc., with a Festival Club, a Fringe, and Umbrella events. Canterbury also hosts the annual Lounge On The Farm festival in July, which mainly sees performances from rock, indie and dance artists.
The Tour de France has appeared twice in Canterbury. In 1994 the tour passed through, and in 2007 it held the finish for Stage 1. The city is host to four universities: The University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, the University College for the Creative Arts and most recently GAU (The Girne American University). People born in Canterbury include TV presenter Fiona Phillips, Orlando Bloom and Mary Tourtel, the creator of Rupert Bear.