York - A City Of History
There is so much to do and see in and around York. To find out more click on the headline topics to the right of this text... or read on.
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.