Northern England is a place that tourists usually leave out of their itineraries. I had no plans of exploring the Northern England either, but when the opportunity presented itself for me to travel to York I had to take it, even if it meant that I’ll be traveling solo for the first time in my life!
Before I went to York, I was all anxious about it. What if I get lost? What if my phone runs out of battery? But neither did happen (I had a portable charger with me just in case!). And of course, it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating experiences! I was not even alone as I made a new friend ten minutes into the journey, and we ended up strolling the streets together. 😀 So here’s what we saw/ did, if you’d like to visit York too.
York city walls were originally built to protect the Roman garrisons. Later on, civilians settled around it with aristocrats living inside the walls. It’s free to walk the city walls, and we did the section from Red Tower to Walmgate Bar (bar means gate, and Walmgate Bar had been the Treasurer’s House). There are only a few railings in this section, but the wall walk is wide, so there’s no chance of falling if you are careful.
York is known for being a medieval city, however, not all buildings are ancient, as some have been rebuilt after the Blitz.
Clifford’s Tower is what is remaining of the York Castle built by William the Conqueror. We didn’t climb it as there’s nothing much to see inside, but I heard that the views over York are breathtaking!
England is known for its pubs, and we saw some quirky pubs in the heart of York.
The Shambles is a cobbled lane which housed the city’s butcher shops in the 19th century. Today the butchers are long gone, and it is crammed with souvenir shops including “The Shop That Must Not Be Named” which is now open to muggles! 😀
Guy Fawkes (key conspirator of the failed attempt to blow up the parliament in 1605, known as gunpowder plot) was born in York in 1570. Today his birthplace has been turned into Guy Fawkes Inn.
The magnificent York Minster is the jewel of the city. It is the largest medieval Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, and within in England, it is only second in importance to Canterbury Cathedral.
I was mesmerized by the stunning architecture and intricate stained glass windows.
We were also lucky to hear the Minster Choir perform, which was a heavenly experience! So if possible try to coincide your visit with a choral singing (you can find the times here).
Did you know Constantine the Great, who is credited with converting the Roman Empire to Christianity, was proclaimed Emperor while in York in AD 306? Historians believe it happened where the York Minster stands today, so there’s a statue of Constantine the Great right outside.
World’s largest collection of locomotives is in York at the National Rail Museum. Trainspotters will be delighted to see a replica of Rocket (1829), the world’s first ‘modern’ steam locomotive, or Mallard which set the world speed record for a steam locomotive in 1938 (126mph). You can also step on board the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train or my favorite, the First World War ambulance train. Even if you are not a rail nerd, this fine museum is well worth a visit even if only to have a peek at the stunning carriages of the royal train used by Queen Victoria!
The National Rail Museum was the last stop for us. Even though we spent an entire day in York, I feel like we barely scratched the surface. So if I find myself in England again, York is a city that I would love to return. 🙂