A city of contrasts and exciting discoveries
ork: so good they named it once. And like its American counterpart, York is a city crammed with impressive architecture, where Georgian mansions, Viking settlements, Gothic masterpieces, and Victorian, cobbled streets find themselves squeezed within the Roman walls. No wonder then that fans of Google’s street map voted York’s higgledy-piggledy street The Shambles as Britain’s prettiest thoroughfare.
History and Heritage
2,000 years is a long time granted, but in those two millennia, York has been through a tumultuous time. Established by the Romans, it was ransacked by the Vikings, invaded by Saxons, attacked countless times by the Scots, and yet still had time to become a powerhouse of middle age Christianity (whose love of dungeons seems a little worrisome).
Must See Attractions
Stomp your best walking shoes first to the Yorkshire Museum , home to an eclectic mix of artefacts ranging from Viking swords to a meteorite that nearly hit the city in 1881. Then learn about the harsh, gory world of yore at the York Dungeon , the JORVIK Viking Centre , or take a walk on the wild side with the Original Ghost Walk of York . Lastly, check into the mesmeric York Minster - the biggest Gothic cathedral outside of Rome.
Food and Drink
A food tour of York absolutely must start at Betty’s Tea Rooms , whose opulent decor was designed to match the Queen Mary cruise-liner’s Art Deco interior, and which is home to Betty’s Mirror - on which many US and Canadian servicemen engraved their names during WW2. After a good, Yorkshire brew, grab some nosh anywhere from J Bakers Bistro Moderne - the Michelin-starred eatery - through to authentic greasy spoon that is Hungry Horace’s.
Take a trip along the River Ouse through York city centre. If that inspires a day of adventure, try the York Maze - reputed to be the biggest in the world, though bear in mind that it’s only open from July to September. Lastly, the thing to do around York is the City Wall Walk: rummage through the snickelways, cross the Millennium Bridge and stop to admire the Roman ramparts, the perfect spot to check for invaders.
Not just a pretty street, the Shambles’ quaint thoroughfare is chock full of diverse shops. If you want to get your hands on antique and vintage jewellery then the Stonegate area is home to lots of small, independent traders and the Antiques Centre York has pieces going back to Roman times. For more instruments than you can wave a conductor’s baton at and an impressive selection of sheet music head to Banks Music .
Arts and Culture
With touring exhibitions celebrating greats like David Hockney, York Art Gallery brings together the best of the past and present. With a myriad of shapes on display, the New School House Gallery houses contemporary ceramics, glass, jewellery, textiles and art. St Anthony's Hall , one of York's medieval guildhall, is home to the only museum dedicated to quilting and textile arts.
In February, the JORVIK Viking Festival brings blood-curdling medieval events and Viking battles to the city – is history allowed to be this much fun? And it’s not just boffins that will enjoy the Festival of Science and Technology in March - with 250 fascinating events it’s bound to go off with a big bang. Get swept away on a tide of soaring strings at the York Early Music Festival in July.
Psst... Handy Hints
Climb the 275 steps of the Central Tower for the best view of York and the countryside beyond.
Have an afternoon tea in the sumptuous surroundings of Grays Court , once the home to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset (and brother of Jane Seymour).
As day melts into night, learn about the darker side of York.Original Ghost Walk, York
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