It has for centuries had an undoubted air of myth, magic, legend and mystery. People associated with the town, whether in reality or tradition, include King Arthur, Merlin, St. Patrick, Joseph of Arimathea and even Jesus Christ.
It is believed in some quarters that Joseph of Arimathea brought his young nephew, Jesus, to Britain in the course of his trading for tin. The focus of the trip would have been Cornwall, but he is said to have visited the island which is now Glastonbury.
After the Crucifixion, he visited again, and set up the first Christian church in Britain, of wattle and daub.
Glastonbury Abbey has a 15th century gatehouse which now contains a museum. The ruins are mostly of the 12th century, and include the graves of King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere, miraculously discovered by the monks when the Abbey was in dire straits financially.
St. Patrick is said to have become Abbot here in the 5th century, and that was certainly one of the early appointments of St. Dunstan, a local man, in 943. Three Kings of England were buried at the Abbey: Edmund I, Edgar I and Edmund II.
For centuries, Glastonbury has been an important pilgrimage centre. Two buildings associated with these visitors are the Tribunal and the George and Pilgrims Hotel, both 15th century.
St. John's Church dates from the 15th century. A tomb in the church was said to be that of Joseph of Arimathea.
The Chalice Well was a famous spa in the 18th century, and one of the places where the Holy Grail is said to be hidden.
Wearyall Hill was reached by Joseph and his followers on Christmas morning. While he rested, he stuck his staff in the ground. This took root and flowered, being the origin of the Glastonbury Christmas rose. The Roundhead soldier who hacked down the original tree paid for his deed, it is said, by hacking off his own leg in the process.
Glastonbury Tor, a conspicuous landmark for many miles around, is 521 feet high, and topped by the ruins of St. Michael's Church.
Glastonbury now has a fine crop of New Age shops, and is probably best kn own today for its annual rock festival, organised since 1970 by Michael Eavis and known originally as Glastonbury Fayre.
In spite of the fact that so much added to the story of Glastonbury is nonsense, this is nevertheless a place of great antiquity and sanctity.