York Travel Summary

The beautifully preserved medieval walled city of York has everything from the majestic York Minster through to the snickelways and medieval architecture – York is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  Walk the medieval cobbled streets and soak up the history of the city, once ruled by the Romans and the Vikings.

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The York Travel Summary is segmented into 4 key travel themes to immerse you into everything York:

  1. An introduction and brief history to this wonderful city;
  2. Some Facts & Figures;
  3. Some Great itineraries;
  4. A comprehensive lowdown of What to See;

Hope you enjoy it!  Carpe Diem!

 

1. An introduction and brief history to this wonderful city

York is an easy and pleasant city for walking, and a circuit of the city wall is an excellent way to get your bearings.  Among the most evocative streets are the Shambles, originally a street of butchers shops and retaining its overhanging, jettied timber-framed buildings, and Stonegate, where shop signs and frontages span several centuries.

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The magnificent 13th-century castle walls snake around the medieval centre and at its core is the magnificent York Minster, one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world.

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Shambles

2. Some Facts & Figures:

York Facts Figures v0.1

York has:

  • a population of 200,000 and 8.4 million tourists
  • the longest and best-preserved City Walls in England
  • the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe – York Minster – this massive cathedral took 250 years to build, from 1220 till its consecration in 1472

Some fascinating facts:

  • Constantine was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York in 306 AD
  • York is home to one of the largest Railway Museums in the world, where visitors can view the only Japanese Bullet ‘Shinkansen’ train outside of Japan
  • The Shambles is thought to be the oldest street in Europe, and is arguably the best preserved medieval street in the world. It even getting a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086
  • Guy Fawkes was born in York, and a plaque on the wall in Stonegate commemorates his birth. The building that he was born in is now the historic Guy Fawkes Inn
  • York is said to be the most haunted city in the whole of Europe with an estimated 500 ghosts in the York City Centre
  • York is the UK’s home of chocolate and it’s said that 47 KitKat’s are eaten every second
  • It is legal to shoot a Scotsman within the York City Walls but only with a bow and arrow and not on Sundays
  • York has a pub for everyday of the year. York is home to the largest Food and Drink Festival in Great Britain, which takes place for ten days in September

 

3. Some Great Itineraries:

Day 1 Itinerary:

York Itinerary Day 1 20210922 v0.1

8am – Walk around the glorious Castle Walls:

A great way of orientating yourself when visiting York is to walk the walls. One of the glories of the city, York’s walls date mainly from the fourteenth century, but contain bits of earlier construction, especially the Roman section along Museum Street.  The walls are spectacular at several surviving medieval gatehousesBootham Bar to the northwest near Exhibition Square, Micklegate Bar to the southwest, Monk Bar to the northeast and Walmgate Bar (the only one to retain its protective barbican) to the southeast.

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11am – Art o’clock:

York Art gallery houses an extensive collection of early Italian, British and northern European paintings.  The gallery puts on a year-round series of special exhibitions and events, and is noted for its collections of British studio pottery and twentieth-century British painters.

 

Afternoon – Visit York Minster:

York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals – dating from 1220-1472, this is Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps, with two towers, richly traceried windows and a massive west front.  Its medieval stained glass represents a quarter of all the stained glass of the period in England. Look particularly for the Five Sisters within a quintet of lancet windows, and for the depictions of Genesis and Revelation in the superb east window of circa 1250 – the world’s largest area of medieval stained glass within a single window. Make sure you check out the wonderful views at the top of York Minster.

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Evening – Wine and Beer o’clock:

Check out some of the wonderful pubs along Stonegate.  The Botanist, Punch Bowl, Evil Eye, Ye Old Starre Inne, Kennedy’s Bar & Restaurant and Bobo Lobo are great places to enjoy a beer or two.  Remember there are over 365 pubs so you could be in for a great evening.

Day 2 Itinerary:

York Itinarary Day 2 20210922 v0.1

8am – Visit York Railway Museum:

Walk across Lendel Bridge and visit the fabulous National Railway Museum is the definitive national collection of the railway.  Bonus points – there is no admission charge.

Over 100 restored locomotives are on display here, including the record-breaking steam locomotive Mallard, which reach a heady 126 mph and is the world’s fastest steam engine, a full-size working replica of the Rocket, originally built by the railway pioneer George Stephenson (1781-1848), the sumptuous royal saloon carriage built for Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and the modern Japanese bullet training.

 

11am – Visit the Treasurer’s House:

Just behind York Minster you can find the National Trust-run Treasurer’s House, a fine seventeenth-century mansion.  Much restored by its owner from 1897, industrial magnate Frank Green, and organised into period rooms to display his various art and antique collections, it tells far more about the late Victorian and Edwardian taste of the house’s reconstruction than of its Jacobean origins.

 

Afternoon – Picnic in Museum Gardens:

This is a pearl of a picnic place, where you can spread out on the lawn and survey the scene. There are ruins of 13th century St. Mary’s Abbey, the 13th century remains of St Leonard’s Hospital (including a chapel and vaulted undercroft), a Roman tower known as the Multangular Tower and a large chunk of Roman wall standing at its original height.  Also in the gardens is the Yorkshire Museum, whose exhibits include Roman sculptures and mosaicsAnglo-Saxon finds such as the Ormside Bowl and much-embellished Gilling SwordViking weaponry and medieval treasures.

Museum Gardens

 

Evening – Visit the wonderful Shambles:

A short walk south from York Minster leads through to one of the city’s most memorable streets, where jetted half-timbered buildings, overhang the narrow thoroughfare, the walls lean in at alarming angles and the buildings on either side almost touch each other at roof level.  There are some lovely restaurants and even more pubs and bars in and around the Shambles.

Shambles

 

4. A comprehensive lowdown of What to See

York Minster

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals – dating from 1220-1472, this is Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps, with two towers, richly traceried windows and a massive west front
  • Its medieval stained glass represents a quarter of all the stained glass of the period in England. Look particularly for the Five Sisters within a quintet of lancet windows, and for the depictions of Genesis and Revelation in the superb east window of circa 1250the world’s largest area of medieval stained glass within a single window
  • For a millennia, people have been drawn to this sacred place, but its story stretches back 2,000 years to the birth of modern-day Christianity in Roman York. Explore its history, join a service or simply enjoy the space
  • The cathedral has more medieval stained glass than anywhere else in the country. In 2018, for the first time in nearly a decade, visitors can see one of its most famous works of art – the Great East Window – revealed following a decade-long restoration and conservation project

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York Minster Tower

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • York Minster’s Central Tower is the highest point in York and offers unbeatable, panoramic views of the city
  • See medieval stonework and Gothic grotesques as you climb the 275 steps to the top

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York Minster Undercroft

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Follow in the footsteps of Roman soldiers, discover the Minster’s connections to Viking York and touch archaeological finds from across the centuries in state-of-the-art chambers beneath the cathedral
  • The Undercroft Museum tells the story of two millennia of York’s history through interactive digital displays and artefacts from the cathedral’s historic collection
  • You can see the foundations of the Norman cathedral, and before that the Roman principia, or fortress, that once stood on the site. They even found a Roman culvert along with water was still flowing to empty into the Ouse.
  • A new, interactive gallery, Revealing York Minster has utilized space uncovered during emergency excavations in the 1970s to explore the history of the cathedral’s subterranean underpinning, from the Roman barracks which predated the Minster to its Norman foundations

 

York City Walls

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • A great way of orientating yourself when visiting York is to walk the walls. One of the glories of the city, York’s walls date mainly from the fourteenth century, but contain bits of earlier construction, especially the Roman section along Museum Street
  • The walls are complete, except for a section on the eastern edge where marshland and fishponds made defence unnecessary, and in the south where the city was already protected by its castle
  • The walls are spectacular at several surviving medieval gatehousesBootham Bar to the northwest near Exhibition Square, Micklegate Bar to the southwest, Monk Bar to the northeast and Walmgate Bar (the only one to retain its protective barbican) to the southeast.
  • Walking the walls is one of the great pleasures of York, offering ever-changing views of the city and its surroundings

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York City Walls 3

Shambles

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • A short walk south from York Minster leads through to one of the city’s most memorable streets, where jetted half-timbered buildings, overhang the narrow thoroughfare, the walls lean in at alarming angles and the buildings on either side almost touch each other at roof level
  • This was originally a row of butcher’s stall (hence the hooks and rails, from which the meat was hung still visible above some windows)
  • It has been smartened up into one of the city’s most famous sights and costumed characters entertain sightseers

Shambles

Stonegate

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • One of the most attractive and architecturally varied streets in York is Stonegate
  • The road has always been central to the City’s layout. Six feet below its pavement lies the Roman Via Pretoria, which connected the Basilica at the centre of the fortress to the bridge over the River Ouse and the civilian settlement on the other side
  • The Roman road may have given the street its name, although Francis Drake records in 1736: ‘It had this name given as is said from the vast quantity of stone lead through this street for the building of the cathedral’
  • Stonegate is an attractive old street, full of interesting little shops. Apart from Mulberry Hall – the china and crystal specialist – it has a number of jewellers, the Teddy bear shop, the Peter rabbit shop, a very good book shop and much more

Stonegate

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York Castle Museum

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Housed in the former Debtor’s Prison of 1705 and Female Prison of 1780, this museum alone justifies a visit to York
  • Displays include full-size reconstructions of Victorian and Edwardian shopping streets, collections of costumes and uniforms, and the very cell in which the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin (1706-39) spent his last days before facing the death on the gallows

 

Jorvik Viking Centre

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Another of York’s must-sees is the fruition of an excavation that uncovered the Viking settlement of Jorvik. The centre presents a unique journey back to the 10th century York, with sights, sounds and smells of life based on archaeological evidence
  • It ends with a display of finds from the site of a hologram of the Viking helmet found here – the original is in the Yorkshire Museum in Museum Gardens

 

National Railway Museum

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Across Lendel Bridge in the west of the city, the National Railway Museum is the definitive national collection of the railway and it is free
  • Over 100 restored locomotives are on display here, including the record-breaking steam locomotive Mallard, which reach a heady 126 mph and is the world’s fastest steam engine, a full-size working replica of the Rocket, originally built by the railway pioneer George Stephenson (1781-1848), the sumptuous royal saloon carriage built for Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and the modern Japanese bullet training
  • Other displays include railway posters, paintings and photographs

 

Museum Gardens

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • This is a pearl of a picnic place, where you can spread out on the lawn and survey the scene. There are ruins of 13th century St. Mary’s Abbey, the 13th century remains of St Leonard’s Hospital (including a chapel and vaulted undercroft), a Roman tower known as the Multangular Tower and a large chunk of Roman wall standing at its original height
  • Also in the gardens is the Yorkshire Museum, whose exhibits include Roman sculptures and mosaics, Anglo-Saxon finds such as the Ormside Bowl and much-embellished Gilling Sword, Viking weaponry and medieval treasures
  • You can also visit the Yorkshire Museum, a gold pendant Middleham Jewel in the adorned with a superb sapphire one of the finest examples of medieval Gothic jewellery

Museum Gardens dusk Museum Gardens

Treasurer’s House

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Just behind York Minster the National Trust-run Treasurer’s House, a fine seventeenth-century mansion
  • Much restored by its owner from 1897, industrial magnate Frank Green, and organised into period rooms to display his various art and antique collections, it tells far more about the late Victorian and Edwardian taste of the house’s reconstruction than of its Jacobean origins
  • You can hear about the famous story of the ghost of Roman legionnaires marching through its basement, and anecdotes about Green’s increasingly eccentric and obsession with tidiness – creeping down to the kitchen a the dead of night to check that cutlery was laid out in rows, insisting that the renovation workmen wear slippers, having glass fronts fitted to cupboards so that he could check the organisation of their contents

 

York Art Gallery

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • York Art gallery houses an extensive collection of early Italian, British and northern European paintings
  • The gallery puts on a year-round series of special exhibitions and events, and is noted for its collections of British studio pottery and twentieth-century British painters

 

Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is York’s biggest and best-preserved half-timbered building
  • Pictures of the Hall do not prepare you for how beset by other more recent buildings it is, but once you’re inside the medieval atmosphere is palpable.
  • The hall was built by the merchant adventurers in 1362 and consists of three main rooms corresponding to the three functions of the guildbusiness, charity and religion
  • The updates Great Hall, dating from the mid-fourteenth century, has a wooden floor and ornate open-beamed roof, and was used for meeting of the guild
  • Within the undercroft there is a chapel which dates from the mid-seventeenth century

 

York Dungeon

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • The York Dungeon offers a cross between a ghost train and pantomime, in which you pass through a series of displays (a medieval inn, a Viking battlefield and a torture chamber) with stories by actors dressed for the part
  • The emphasis is on pain, gore and horror and the actors are great

 

Bar Convent

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Bar Convent is the oldest functioning convent in England. Housed in Grade I listed building, it was established in 1686 by the followers of Mary Ward, the founder of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • The museum, on two floors of the convent, tells the story of Mary Ward and the dark days (for Roman Catholics) between the English Reformation under Henry VIII and the repeal of the penal laws in 1777 – a tale of secret worship, heroism and martyrdom

 

Clifford’s Tower

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Clifford’s Tower, together with the section of wall just south of the Castle Museum and Crown Courts buildings, is all that is left of York Castle.
  • The castle, built by William the Conqueror during the harrying of the north, started its day as a motte and bialy with a wooden keep
  • Major events in its chequered history included the burning of the old wooden tower in 1190 AD, when it was being used as a refuge by hundreds of Jews trying to escape anti-Semitic riots in the city, and the execution, ordered by Henry VIII, of Robert Aske, leader of the Catholic “Pilgrimage of Grace” rebellion against the Reformation
  • What you see now is the shell of the mid-thirteenth century structure, with subsidence-weakened walls leaning dizzyingly outwards, excellent information boards and a model to explain the tower’s history.
  • The views of York from the top of the keep are spectacular

Cliffords Tower 3

 

Barley Hall:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick

  • Located on the doorstep of York Minster, Barley Hall is a stunning medieval townhouse, once home to the Priors of Nostell and a Lord Mayor of York
  • Until the 1980’s the house was hidden under the relatively modern façade of a derelict office block
  • Only when the building was going to be destroyed was the amazing medieval building discovered and its history revealed.
  • Now lovingly restored to its original splendour Barley Hall boasts stunning high ceilings, beautiful exposed timber frames, and possible the only horn window in England

Richard III & Henry VII Experience:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick

  • Explore the life of the last Plantagenet King as he struggled for the throne and power during his short reign. Located on the City Walls, and visited by Richard III himself, now you can follow the Yorkist King!
  • Explore the life of this first Tudor King as he created a new era in English history, after defeating his rival Richard III. Experience this early years as an exiled Lancastrian heir to the throne and learn the life of this iconic royal, in the very gateway where his enemies’ heads were displayed on spikes

DIG:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick

  • DIG is a hands-on archaeological adventure giving you the chance to dig, delve and discover the most exciting artefacts from 200 years of York’s history
  • With four special indoor excavation pits, all based on real life digs in the city and filled with replica Rome, Viking, medieval and Victorian finds, children can grab a trowel and explore how people lived in these key periods of York’s past
  • DIG offers a unique archaeological adventure to set children on their way to becoming real archaeologists

Fairfax House:

AllThingsTravel

  • One of the finest Georgian houses in England with exceptional collections of furniture, Fairfax House transports you to the glory days of city-living in the eighteenth-century York
  • Originally the winter home of Viscount Fairfax, this townhouses’ richly decorated interiors and magnificent stucco ceilings make it a masterpiece of Georgian design

5. Photo Gallery:

Cliffords Tower 1 Cliffords Tower 2 Cliffords Tower 3 Museum Gardens dusk Museum Gardens Shambles Stonegate York City Walls 2 York City Walls 3 York City Walls York Minster New York Minster night York Minster Towers 2 York Minster Towers 3

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York Minster

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