The grand old city of York

trav-YorkMinsterHISTORY greets you at every turn in York – not just ordinary, common or garden history, but BIG history, tumbling down through the centuries in a cascade of drama with an all-star cast of invaders, monarchs and mayhem.

Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans – each ruled York for periods after its foundation by the Romans as Eboracum in 71AD, and all have left their unique imprints on this most fascinating and welcoming of English cities.

Encircled by its ancient walls, York’s rich heritage has made it the most visited city in England after London. Over two millennia it has provided the setting for many of the nation’s major events.trav-yorkruins

The Romans made it the capital of the northern kingdom of Northumbria, and as the years went by its importance grew, later becoming the centre of the Church of England’s northern ecclesiastical province.

A stroll around modern-day York’s compact centre reveals layer upon layer of history and no shortage of proud locals happy to relate colourful tales, some grizzly, some amusing, that have been passed down the generations.

Arguably England’s most beautiful small city, York’s centre, largely traffic-free, presents a dazzling backdrop of beautiful buildings along its narrow, oddly named streets, or ‘gates’.

trav-yorkstreets3York’s headline act is the Minster, one of northern Europe’s greatest medieval cathedrals. There has been a church on the site since the seventh century and the story of its ups and downs would fill a dozen volumes.

There are plenty of modern attractions, too, such as the Jorvik Centre, commemorating the Vikings’ role in the city’s history, and the National Railway Museum.

trav-yorkstreet2If the absence of traffic gives York’s centre a relaxed feel, however, it’s a different story outside as the city is strangled by traffic for much of the time. But fight your way through the jams and York will reward you a hundredfold. History has seldom presented a more friendly face than here.

Pictures show the Minster, the old walls and scenes around the city.

David Eidlestein


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