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David Ford, History EditorTours > Ancient York

Ancient York
by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia

York is one of the most historic cities in Britain, second only to London. It has been capital of the North since the time of the Romans and still outshines all rivals even today. A busy city, overflowing with excellent shopping, markets and places to eat and drink to suit all tastes and plenty of York hotels. There is theatre, cinema and street entertainment wherever you turn. Lose yourself in the city's delightful 'snickelways' and discover a city buzzing with life.

It is York's history which really pulls the crowds though. For when it comes to ancient and historic buildings, nowhere can rival York. It has the most complete circuit of medieval city walls anywhere in the country, still sporting its four main gates: radiant with ancient heraldry. You can walk along the ramparts for almost two miles and gain spectacular views of this most beautiful of city architecture through the ages surrounds you on all sides, and much of it is open to the public. There are Roman remains dotted here and there, one of the only secular Saxon structures to be found in England, ancient churches with some of the finest medieval glass anywhere, two castles, Tudor timber-framing, Restoration & Georgian elegance. York has it all.

Most famous is, naturally, the great Cathedral, popularly known as 'the Minster'. It dominates the city with its vast towers and elegant windows. It would take a day to explore in detail: Superb glass, Royal monuments, shrines and sculpture. You can even climb to the top of the tower.

Museums, of course, are rampant in the city. They house some of the most entertaining and well thought out displays to be seen in Britain. In the Castle Museum, you can take a stroll down fully reconstructed Victorian and Edwardian streets or ha go on the old slot machines. The Yorkshire Museum has captivating displays from both the history and natural history of the area, with amazing finds from the Roman, Saxon & Viking city as well as St. Mary's Abbey whose ruins stand both within and outside the museum! More ancient structures, in situ, can be seen beneath the great Minster. The World-famous 'Jorvik' Centre transports you back to the 10th century to encounter the sights, sounds and smells of the Viking city. The 'York Dungeon' is a similar 'experience' telling tales of the city's more gruesome past. York is, of course, well known as the most haunted city in Europe and you can follow many of its scary stories on one of the popular 'Ghost Walks'.

To really see everything in York properly will almost a week. You can be selective and still get through a lot in a day trip, though planning is essential. Let Britannia help you . . .

First Stop: Roman Remains in York

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