England: Rievaulx Abbey

Frankly, eastern England was somewhat of a disappointment until this post – old towns, cathedrals, coastline – nothing stood out that much. But the Rievaulx Abbey is a definite 10! The Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery in northern England, founded in 1132, and the great William I actually was the very first abbot of the Rievaulx Abbey. The ruins are truly impressive and haunting, like a skeleton standing over the tranquil green valley. The valley is very remote and is in the heart of the North Moors National Park. As you walk underneath the ribs of the domes of the former abbey, you feel like in a futuristic movie, having landed on an alien planet where life has ceased to exist.