Cheltenham attained its fame originally from its qualities as a spa village, the springs having been discovered in 1715. It was transformed, however, by a visit from George III and his family in 1788, after which the Georgian and Regency crescents, avenues and squares were built, especially in the Montpellier area, creating a most attractive but bustling town.
St. Mary's Church is the only significant survivor from the pre-George III days. It is a 14th century rebuilding of a Norman church, and has excellent stained glass windows.
The Regent Arcade is a very attractive indoor shopping centre.
The Grammar School was founded by Richard Pate in 1576, and rebuilt in the 19th century, when the famous Cheltenham Ladies College was also founded.
Cheltenham Music Festival was inaugurated in the 1940s, and Cheltenham Racecourse is well known for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There is also an annual Festival of Literature.
The popular steam railway known as the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway has a station at the Racecourse.
One of the best known edifices in Cheltenham in the 20th century was GCHQ, the "secret" Cold War listening station.
Among those born in Cheltenham are Fred Archer, jockey; Arthur "Bomber" Harris, head of wartime Bomber Command; Gustav Holst, composer; Brian Jones, Rolling Stones guitarist; and Ralph Richardson, actor.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Cheltenham for groups.