York is city of great beauty, interest and ageless charm, surrounded by ancient walls, and filled with historic buildings and narrow streets that have changed little since the Middle Ages. York's crowning glory is its 1000 year old cathedral, York Minster, a Gothic construction of breathtaking grandeur, and one of the largest in Northern Europe.
York Minster (by Ashley Mills CC0)
York has played a leading role in England's history for nearly 2,000 years. George VI once said that "The history of York is the history of England". The settlement began as a Roman military base at the end of the 1st century AD and later grew into an important Roman city (Eboracum). Substantial traces of which still survive to this day, the most spectacular being the base of the Multangular Tower, which once formed the west corner of the original Roman legionary fort.
After the Romans left, York became a Saxon settlement before succumbing to Viking invaders in 867, after which its name changed to Jorvik. Following the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror built wooden forts to guard the River Ouse at York. A stone replacement for one of the forts, Clifford's Tower, still stands on a hill to the east of the city, near the Castle Museum.
Over 3 miles of York's 12th and 14th century city walls are still intact, more than any other city in Britain. Many parts of the walls can be walked along, which provides an excellent pathway for visitors to tour around the city. The walls have many fortified entrances, including five main gateways (or Bars), the most impressive of which is the Walmgate Bar; the only one in Britain that still has its original Barbican (walls and towers guarding the gateway approach).
Tourist Information Centre:
|The De Grey Rooms, Exhibition Square, YO1 7HB - Tel: 01904 550099|
The heart of the city of York is almost completely surrounded by crenellated stone walls. The original Roman fortifications have long since been replaced by their medieval (12/13th century) counterparts, and have now been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Fortified gateways are set into the walls at irregular intervals. A complete circuit around the walls takes about 1.5 hours on foot, and is richly rewarded by superb views across the city.
Image Credit: David Mark (CC0)
This impressive 13th-c stone keep, built by Henry III, stands on a mound that originally housed a wooden fortress built by William the Conqueror, to help subdue the Northern tribes. A climb to the top affords impressive views over city. The current tower commemorates Roger de Clifford who was hanged in 1322 after his capture at the Battle of Boroughbridge.
Opening times: daily, times vary - Admission Charge
Location: Tower Street Y01 1SA
Image Credit: Linny (CC0)
Visitors of all ages get the chance to partake in hands-on archaeology and investigations into York's Roman, Saxon and Viking history.
Opening times: daily 10 till 5 - Admission Charge
Location: St Saviourgate Y01 8NN
Built by Viscount Fairfax in 1755 for his daughter Anne. This fine Georgian town house was designed by John Carr and restored in the 1980s. Over the years it has been a cinema and a dance hall. Today it is a museum containing a fine collection of 18th-c furniture, porcelain and antique clocks.
Opening times: Mon~Sat 11 till 5 - Admission Charge
Location: Castlegate Y01 9RN
York's 15th-c stone Guildhall is situated on the banks of the River Ouse. The colourful and grotesque carvings in the roof timbers are copies of the originals, which perished during the air raids that blighted the city in 1942. However, evidence of the original 15th-c building can still be found in the inner chambers, which survived the fires.
Opening times: Mon~Fri 9-5, Sat 10-5, Sun 2-5 - Admission Free
Location: Coney Street Y01 9QN
An innovative exhibition and tour of York as it was in Viking times, complete with sights, sounds and smells of the era. The centre was built on the site of extensive excavations, in 1973, when the vaults of a bank were being deepened at Coppergate. Many Viking artifacts were discovered, including three timber buildings, miraculously preserved in the wet peat.
Opening times: daily 10 till 5 - Admission Charge
Location: Coppergate Y01 9WT
One of Britain's most notable legacies of the medieval period. Built by the oldest and most powerful of the city's merchant guilds, who controlled the northern cloth trade in the 15th and 17th centuries. The oldest parts of the hall date from 1357. The building consists of a Great Hall, a chapel and an undercroft, that once served as a hospital until 1900. The medieval atmosphere is enhanced by its early furnishings, old paintings and walls hung with banners.
Opening times: Times vary throughout year - Admission Charge
Location: Fossgate Y01 9XD
The world's largest railway museum. Displays include royal steam trains to humble diesel shunting engines; spanning the 200 year history of Britain's railways from the horse-drawn days to the present. Locomotives include the 1829 Agenoria, The Flying Scotsman, and a 1938 Mallard; the fastest of all steam locomotives, which reached speeds of up to 126 mph.
Opening times: daily 10 till 6 - Admission Free
Location: Leeman Road Y026 4XJ
This magnificent timber-framed building located next to the Minster, was built in 1453 for the Minster's Chantry priests. It was named after William Fitzherbert, who became Archbishop of York in 1153. An early-Georgian doorway leads from the Minster into a picturesque quadrangle, adorned with carved figures along the beams under the roof eaves.
Opening times: all year 10 till 5 (subject to private bookings) - Admission Charge
Location: 5 College Street Y01 7JF
Located in network a pedestrianised streets in the centre of the city, the Shambles and Stonegate are some the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. The name Shambles comes from the term 'Fleshammels', meaning a street of butchers and slaughterhouses. Stonegate is built over the original path of a Roman road, with a stone lined surface. The term "gate" is the old Norse word for street.
A narrow passage leads from Stonegate to the 'Twelfth-century House', the oldest house in York. Parts of which have been restored from an original Norman dwelling.
Located close to the cathedral and enclosed within a peaceful walled garden, this 17/18th century building is one of the City's finest. Its rooms contain a wealth of period decor and furnishings. The last private owner entrusted the house to the National Trust in 1930, and it is now open to the public for part of the year.
Opening times: Mar to Oct, daily (exc Fri) 11 till 5 - Admission Charge
Location: Minter Yard Y01 7JL
One of Yorkshire's finest independent breweries. The premises is open to the public for guided tours that show the beer production process. The adult ticket price includes a taste of the brewery's produce.
Opening times: daily tours 12.30 till 5 - Admission Charge
Location: 12 Toft Green Y01 6JT
Opened in 1938, the museum is housed in an 18th-c prison. It contains many period displays, including a Jacobean dining room, a 1950s front room and a moorland cottage. The most impressive exhibit is the reconstruction of a Victorian street, complete with shop fronts.
Opening times: daily 9.30 till 5 (10.30 Sun) - Admission Charge
Location: The Eye of York (next to Clifford's Tower) Y01 1RY
Image Credit: Michael Drummond (CC0)
The gallery displays works by mainly Western European artists, from the last six centuries, such as Bellotto, Boudin, Frith, Lowery, Reynolds, Nash and Parmigianino. There are also fine collections of pottery and watercolours.
Opening times: daily 10 till 5 - Admission Free
Location: Exhibition Square Y01 7EW
Image Credit: Wolfgang Claussen (CC0)
Deep in the catacombs of the ancient city lie these dark and formidable dungeons, which have been used to graphically reconstruct some of the most the gruesome horrors of past history. Be careful when entering as some of exhibits have an unnerving tendency of springing back to life - which is all designed to be part the fun! The story includes Dick Turpin, Gorvik the blood-thirsty Viking, Guy Fawkes, the Witch Trials, Clifford's Tower and the pit of despair.
Opening times: Apr~Sept 10.30 till 5 - Admission Charge
Location: 12 Clifford Street Y01 9RD
York is dominated by its great Minster, which 249 ft wide across the transepts and 524 ft long. The current stone edifice, started by Archbishop Walter de Grey in the early 13th century, replaces a wooden church that once stood on the site in Saxon times. The 234 ft central tower was constructed around 250 years later, and provides amazing views across the city. The Minster's treasures include more than 100 exquisite stained-glass windows, which span across 800 years. The second window on the left, just through the nave's west door, contains some of the oldest stained glass in England, dating from about 1150.
Guided tours are available of tower and of the Undercroft, which is now a museum encompassing the whole of the Minster's long history.
Opening times: daily from 7am - Admission Charge
Location: Deangate Y01 7HH
Image Credit: Robert Fotograf (CC0)
Located in extensive botanical gardens on the banks of the River Ouse. The museum gardens include parts of the city walls, St Mary's Abbey and the Multangular Tower. Exhibits in the museum include pottery and porcelain collections, plus some of the richest Roman, Saxon and Viking treasures found in England. Natural history exhibits include the fossilised remains of an ichthyosaur and plesiosaur, discovered at Whitby in the 19th century.
Opening times: daily 10 till 5 - Admission Charge
Location: Museum Gardens Y01 7FR
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South Yorkshire: Brodsworth Hall
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West Yorkshire: Diggerland | Bramham Park | Riddlesden Hall | Harewood House | Lotherton Hall | Red House Museum | National Coal Mining Museum | Yorkshire Sculpture Park
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