York - A City Of History

There are few cities in the North of England, or indeed the whole of Britain, that have the magical beauty of York. Enjoy outstanding architecture and a history that spans from early Roman times, combined with bustling shopping streets. There is so much to do and see in and around York. Almost completely medieval, York has many ancient timbered houses and narrow winding streets and the whole city has an atmosphere of history. In the fourth century it was a strategic center for the Romans and at that early date was a recognized seat of learning. Although the industrial revolution has almost entirely bypassed York, it is today a flourishing city with road and rail links spreading to all parts of Yorkshire.

The pride of York is the huge and magnificent Minster which towers over the whole city. Visitors return time and time again to this hauntingly beautiful building - York Minster. Built on a site of an earlier church and Roman fortress, it has towered above the city for over 800 years. Being the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe it offers an amazing variety of architecture. The foundation structure of the present church can be clearly seen from the Undercroft where you will also find ruins from Roman and Norman times as well as Saxon gravestones. It contains England's greatest concentration of medieval stained glass; the two most famous windows are the "Five Sisters" windows in the north transept and the Great East window which covers 2,000 square feet. It is though to be the largest area of medieval coloured glass in the world. The first church to be built on this site was a little wooden building erected in AD 627 for the baptism of King Edwin of Northumbria. The present Minster, the fifth on the site, took masters of every craft 250 years to build and was completed and consecrated in 1472.

York is frequently called the "City of Churches", for there are no fewer than 17 pre-Reformation churches within the city boundaries. However, this is a mere handful when compared with the Middle Ages, when York boasted 50 parish churches, two large abbeys and several smaller religious houses. The spirit of medieval York lingers on perhaps most of all in the ancient streets where the upper storeys of the houses lean precariously towards each other across the roadway. The names are fascinating - Stonegate, Goodramgate, Whip-ma-Whop-ma-Gate, and Shambles, the old butchers quarter. The four great Bars or gates of the City, Micklegate, Bootham, Monk, and Walmgate Bars still command the main roads and are a remainder of grimmer days when the strength of the city lay in its walls. Today these streets contain a fascinating variety of shops, among which can be found some of the leading antique furniture, jewelry and silver specialists of the North of England. Although very much aware of its long and fascinating history, York is a thriving city with excellent facilities for entertainment and sport. It is perhaps above all a city which to wander and make one's own discoveries.

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Sightseeing - Places Of Interest

Jorvik Viking Centre "Time cars" take the visitor back through 10 centuries to the very heart of the Viking Kingdom in York. See the detailed reconstruction of a Viking Street with its own workshops, houses and wharves, this unique attraction is located on the former site of a major archaeological dig.

National Railway Museum For all you railway enthusiasts out there, visit the National Railway Museum where you will find a magnificent collection of locomotives, Stephenson’s rocket, the record breaking Mallard, Queen Victoria’s royal coaches and ‘Shinkansen’ the Japanese bullet train.

Another treat, right next door to York Station is York’s Model Railway with up to 14 trains running at any one time on almost a third of a mile of ‘00’ gauge track, a fascinating world in miniature.

York Castle Museum - A series of period rooms and the famous reconstructed streets depict the daily life and occupation of days gone by. The shops in the streets represent various periods from Tudor to Edwardian times. The museum also contains an 18th Century watermill and sections devoted to Yorkshire crafts, costume and military history.

The Yorkshire Museum houses a fascinating collection of treasures dating back to Roman times, including the Middleham Jewel - an exquisite 15th Century pendant. Outside, the museum's own botanical gardens provide further enjoyment.

City Art Gallery Art lovers will head straight for the York City Art Gallery to see 600 years of European painting, including works by Bellotto, Reynolds and Lowry.

York Dungeon Don't be afraid to scream at The York Dungeon - set in dark, musty, atmospheric cellars, you'll encounter local villains such as Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin, and torturers, executioners and martyrs from the past.

Clifford's Tower - Of unusual quatrefoil shape, the Tower was built in the mid-13th century. The original Norman keep was destroyed by fire during the Jewish massacre in 1190.

Fairfax House - This fine Georgian town house has been painstakingly restored by the York Civil Trust and is considered by many to have the finest carving and plasterwork in Yorkshire. Including the famouse Noel Terry collection of furniture (as seen on BBC tv).

Guildhall - Built during the period 1447-53 as the civic hall of York, the Guildhall was partially destroyed in an air raid in 1942, but has since been carefully restored. Of particular interest is the fine timbered roof and the modern stained glass.

Merchant Adventurers Hall - One of the finest of the surviving medieval guildhalls. It was built between 1357 and 1368. Merchant Taylors' Hall Built in the second half of the 14th century, the Hall has a fine timbered roof. in the 17th and 18th centuries it was used as a theatre, and plays were performed during Assize times.

Regimental Museum - The joint Regimental Museum of the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire has all the pageantry of the old Colours and Guidons, the scarlet and gold of uniforms, the glint of weapons and the sparkle of medals to thrill the visitor.

St. Williams College - Founded in 1461 to house the chantry priests of York Minster, the college is now the home of York Convocation. it was here that Charles I set up his printing press in 1642.

Treasurer's House - Stands on the site of the Roman Imperial Barracks. Most of the present house is 17th century and it contains a valuable collection of furniture and pictures.

York Minster Undercroft - An unexpected and unique "spin-off" from the Minster's enormous restored programme. It exposes the 20th century engineering that has saved this magnificent edifice and shows the unearthed sections of several of the earlier cathedrals, together with the Saxon burial ground and Roman legionary Headquarters that were once on this site.

Yorkshire Museum - Set in the delightful grounds of the ruined St. Mary's Abbey, the Museum is noted for its fine collections of Roman antiques, medieval implements, sculpture, ceramics and natural history. It also houses exciting temporary exhibitions.

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Theatres, Cinemas And Tours

Although you can tour the city by open-top bus or on a river boat cruise, York is a city to walk in - compact and made up of narrow steps and walkways surrounded by an ancient stone wall, broken in four places by medieval gates or 'bars' as they are called. A first visit to York should always include a walk along the walls that encircle this historic city, from the top of which there are superb views of the ancient buildings clustered around the largest medieval cathedral in England. The walls date from the time of Edward III (1327-77), and run for a total of two and a half miles.

York is a walker's paradise where you can meander through the "Snickleways" that join the old medieval streets and take time to wonder at the amazing variety of architecture: crooked timber frame blends with its elegant Georgian neighbours. Relax with a glass of traditional ale in a cosy, historic inn, or tuck into a delicious afternoon tea. Wherever you go, you will be entertained by buskers and street theatre - actors, musicians, acrobats and jugglers. For a nightcap with a difference join one of the infamous Ghost Walks around this most haunted of European Cities. The association of Voluntary Guides offer free guided tours every morning and afternoon during the summer, starting in Exhibition square. Further details on the times of walks are available from the Tourist Information Centre. When you just want to sit back and take in the scenery why not take a "York City Sightseeing" bus. Weather permitting, why not take a leisurely boat trip on the River Ouse?

At the end of the day, as both the city and you unwind, there is a vast choice of Olde world pubs, night clubs, wine bars, theatres, and restaurants, including the Theatre Royal and the Grand Opera House. Catch the latest film releases at the City Screen or Odeon cinema in York City Centre or at the larger 12 screen Vue Cinema - located within 2 miles of the city.

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Yorkshire Days Out

York is the ideal place to stay for getting out and about in the picturesque Dales with riverside villages, tumbling waterfalls and sweeping fells, or delight in the purple landscape of the North Yorkshire Moors. Drop in on the market towns of Malton, Helmsley & Pickering, and the pretty villages of Thornton Le Dale and Hutton Le Hole. While you are there, stay a while in Dalby Forest, a 9 mile scenic drive, with cycle paths, walks, picnic and barbecue areas, or visit the Ryedale Folk Museum with thatched cottages and craft workshops, marking the changes in rural life since Tudor times.

Did you enjoy James Herriot’s novels? If so, stop by his surgery at Thirsk, experience the life of a country vet in the 1940’s. Venture a little further over the Moors to the coast, see the quaint town of Whitby, home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula or travel a little further to Scarborough, catch the bracing sea air on the front, or be enthralled by the creatures and marine life at the Sea Life Centre - 'The World of the Octopus’. You can even experience a ride on a real steam train to ‘Aidensfield’ and beyond, through 18 miles of scenic countryside.

North of York lies Newby Hall & Gardens in Ripon and Ripon Cathedral and Duncombe Park - you can also study the history of Treske at the Trees to Treske visitor centre. Scotland's capital Edinburgh is only 2 and a half hours away by train from York's railway station.

East Of York, you can visit Castle Howard - only 15 miles away - setting for television's Brideshead Revisited. Between York and the East Yorkshire Coastline town of Whitby lies the North Yorkshire Moors. Visit Goathland "Heartbeat country" via an authentic North Yorkshire Moors Steam Train at the small village-town of Pickering:- or visit an award winning war museum "Eden Camp" (1939-45) near the Market town of Malton. The east-Yorkshire coastline is less than 1 hours drive away by car.

Leeds is the largest city in Yorkshire. Leeds is only around 20 minutes train journey, South of York and here you can visit one of Yorkshire's largest tourist attractions. The Royal Armouries is a huge museum with a range of live displays. It also houses Britain's biggest ever dinosaur exhibition. England's capital London is only 2 hours away by train from York's railway station.

The Yorkshire Dales, and in between the Yorkshire Dales and York is located Mother Shiptons Cave and the Petrifying Wells at Knaresborough. Nearer towards the Yorkshire Dales, the wonderful Fountains Abbey and Bolton Abbey shouldn't be not far from Skipton Castle - and for "real ale" lovers The Black Sheep Brewery is situated at the gateway to Wensleydale in Masham. The Yorkshire Dales are little more than 1 hours drive away by car.

Shoppers Dream

York is renowned for it's wide range of shops located within a mass of snickleways and streets in central York. On the outskirts of York, the Monks Cross Shopping Park and McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, are both hugely popular with shoppers looking for top brand names, at reasonable prices, from all the major department stores.

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