One of my all-time favourite city visits that needs a revisit! The walled city of York, initially founded by the Romans in 71 AD and named Eboracum; was then conquered by the Vikings and dominated between 875 to 954, renaming the city Jorvík. York finally fell into English hands when English lands unified in the 10th century.
The highlights of this city are its Roman and Viking past. Go past the statue of Constantine, who became Roman Emperor in 306 AD, admire the abundance of original timber-framed architecture, walk the fortified Wall that surrounds this fascinating city, visit the Shambles, and stroll along the River Ouse. Do take notice of the pub signs in town. Many depict images of trial and punishment.
There is the Jorvik Center, which was not open when I was in York, but I am interested in visiting in the future. (£12.50, Daily from 10 am-4 pm, except Christmas). There is also Barly Hall. The restored interactive medieval townhouse, once home to the Priors of Nostell and a Lord Mayor of York. (£6.50 but you can purchase a multi-pass if you are interested in seeing both the Jorvik Center, Barly Hall, along with the Richard III and Henry VII Experience) and so much more.
City of York Wall is a must-do fortified wall surrounding the city. About 3.4 km (a little over 2 miles) walk that takes about an hour but don’t quote me on that. It took me almost half a day as I stopped many times to enjoy the different surrounding views, reading historical plaques, as well as visit all the Gatehouse towers, also known as Bar.
The Monk Bar features Richard III Experience, and Micklegate Bar features Henry VII Experience (£5.00 to see both). I leave the fascinating history of York for you to discover. Lots of interesting reads along the way, some not so pleasant. (Free, and open from 8:00 am to sunset, except during repairs or inclement weather).
York Minster is one of the largest Gothic Cathedrals in Europe built between 1220 and 1472over what was once a wooden church that was replaced by a stone structure. An impressive Norman Cathedral commissioned by William the Conquer, this imposing Cathedral sits in the center of York. The interior is a marvel for the eyes with its stunning stained glass and ceiling vaults. For an unforgettable view, climb the 275 steps of the Central Tower (£11.50, Mon-Sat 9 am – 4.30 pm. Sun 12.30 pm – 3.00 pm)
Clifford’s Tower is the remains of what was once the York Castle built by William the Conqueror — named after Roger de Clifford who was executed for treason against Edward II and then hanged in chains from the tower walls. Not the most pleasant of histories as this was also the site of the 1190 massacre of the York Jewish community who took refuge in the Tower from a mob and unable to escape; they committed mass suicide. Nonetheless, an impressive Tower to walk by and visit (£5.70. Open 10 am – 4 pm)
The Shambles is a must-visit of one of the worlds best Medieval narrow streets dating back to the fourteenth century and showcasing still intact medieval timber-framed buildings. A selection of interesting shops and galleries dot the small cobblestoned and winding roads. Some streets are so narrow that you can touch buildings on both sides. If you visit during the day note that there will be a lot of people. If you want to see the architecture upfront and get a different perspective, I highly recommend visiting in the early morning or early evening. I did both as the lighting changes and gave a different ambience, and in the early evening, the exciting locals come out.
So much more to discover! There are lots of nooks and crannies still waiting for discovery in York, where I have barely touched the surface. Also, York is a central to other destinations in the area including Leeds and the North York Moors National Park where the coastal town of Whitby is home to Gothic Whitby Abbey. The inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Stay tuned!