St. Andrews is a small university town on the North-East coast of Fife in Scotland, in the area known as the East Neuk (pronounced nuke). It has a population of around 16,000, with a student population of about 5,000. The town takes its name from the relics of the apostle St.Andrew, which are believed to have been buried in the town at some time around the 6th century A.D., although the exact date or even if the legend is true is unknown.
What is certain is that by 975 A.D. the Bishop of St. Andrews was one of the leading religious figures in Scotland. St. Andrews was for a time effectively the religious centre of Scotland, especially after the construction of a large cathedral in the 12th century. Although its importance as a religious centre has since waned, the ruins of the cathedral are still a major part of St. Andrews town centre, and until recently it was the largest edifice ever built in Scotland. St. Rules tower, the last remaining part of an older church that was incorporated into the cathedral, is worth a visit, as it offers an excellent view of the town and its beautiful natural surroundings. The town also has an interesting ruined castle, where the Bishops would retreat in times of trouble, which were frequent in medieval Scotland.
Although the town has a rich and interesting religious history, it is known throughout the world primarily as the home of golf, as St.Andrews is the location of what is reputedly the worlds oldest Golf course, the Old course. Golf has been played there since the 15th century, but the course itself was originally largely a result of natural geography, and so it is hard to give an estimate of its age. The Links is now home to six separate courses, but the Old course is still seen as world-class course, and regularly hosts major tournaments such as the year 2000 Open Golf championship.
Another, more recent, reason for the town's fame is the attendance of Prince William, heir to the throne of Britain, at the University of St. Andrews. The university itself is the oldest in Scotland, and regularly features as one of the top ten universities in Britain. It has an excellent reputation for Marine Biology, and Art History, the subject Wills is studying, is taught by the father of a good friend of mine.
Overall, the town has a long and varied history, and is worthy of note for a number of reasons beyond the current short-term media infatuation and its tourist-friendly image as the birthplace of Golf.
An excellent source of information on the town can be found at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/city.shtml
St.Andrews is my home town, and I heartily agreed with Basemodron's recommendation of the Cellar bar, aka Aikmans, on Bell street. His node seems to have been nuked now, however.
Also, St.Rules tower is accessed through a turnstile which takes tokens that can be bought from a desk at the cathedral visitor centre desk. These tokens are the same size as ten pence pieces, so save yourself some money by putting one of these in the box at the bottom of the tower, hitting on the side, and getting up for ten pence instead of the couple of quid it would cost otherwise.
update: Actually, I hear this has changed these days. Never mind.