09/03/2013 01:25 EDT

Yorkshire, England Named Europe's Best Destination At World Travel Awards

on the pasture in yorkshire...

(Relaxnews) - A county in northern England perhaps best known for being romanticized and mythologized by the Bronte sisters for its wild, windswept moors has been named the leading destination in Europe at an awards ceremony referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry.

Industry experts named the county of Yorkshire -- the largest in England -- the best destination on the continent at the World Travel Awards in Antalya, Turkey last week, beating out world class cities such as Barcelona, Florence, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, London and Rome which were also nominated in the same category.

It’s the first time in 17 years that the award has been given to a county rather than a major city.

While it’s been forever immortalized in English literature as a tertiary character in Emily Bronte’s 19th century classic “Wuthering Heights,” today the region has carved out a reputation as being a gastronomic destination with six Michelin-starred restaurants in the county, more than any other region outside London.

Last year, the North York Moors National Park, home to prehistoric remains, villages, abbeys, and dramatic coastal cliffs celebrated its 60th anniversary.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is also known for its moody, windswept moors, limestone crags and labyrinthine caves, while the Peak District National Park likewise offers ever-changing landscapes of rugged uplands, gentle limestone hills and heather peat-covered moorlands.

Other major attractions in the area include Harrogate’s Turkish Bath and Health Spa, one of seven remaining, 19th century Turkish baths in the UK, and Meadowhall in Sheffield, Europe’s largest shopping and leisure complex which attracts more than 400,000 shoppers every day.

The landscaped 18th-century gardens of Studley Royal Park and the ruins of Cistercian Fountains Abbey, as well as the preserved Victorian village of Saltaire are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In other destination awards, Portugal emerged the major winner sweeping categories like Europe’s leading beach destination (Algarve), city break destination (Lisbon), golf destination and leading island destination (Madeira Islands).

Lufthansa, meanwhile, took the award for Europe’s leading airline.

The grand final ceremony is set for November 30 in Doha, Qatar, where international winners will be announced.

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