York is a fascinating city. In many ways, it is a mini-London – and there’s a good reason for this. York was at the centre of British life from the times of the Romans to the industrial era.
York’s history began in antiquity. The Romans founded the city on the River Ouse and called it Eboracum – the city’s Latin name. From the earliest times, it was a critical administrative centre. If you were a person of importance in ancient times and you lived in the north of what was then called Britannia, you went to York. It was the centre of both cultural and commercial life for the entire region and sported a massive Roman Villa where York Minster stands today.
In medieval times, York was a centre of the Catholic church in England, second only to Canterbury. Various officials and cardinals regularly visited the city to ensure that the church coffers were filled to the brim.
For these reasons, the city is an exciting place. It has more history than practically anywhere else in the country and is regularly visited by overseas tourists wanting a deep insight into British culture. So why do people love York? Here are some answers for you.
York Minster (or cathedral) dominates the city’s skyline. The majestic building completed more than five centuries ago is probably one of the most beautiful religious monuments in the country and a testament to the engineering prowess of the medieval world.
The Minster has two unusual features that make it stand out from similar cathedrals across the country. The first is the box-shaped central tower which required reinforcement in the 20th century because it was at risk of falling. And the second is the so-called “heart of York” – the giant stained glass window at the front.
York nightlife is something special whether you’re planning on grabbing a cheeky cocktail at the Evil Eye or a first-class meal at the Blue Bicycle. Despite being home to a little under 200,000 people, York’s large student population makes it one of the best places for going out in the evenings and having a good time. The city is home to many night clubs and bars to keep you entertained, including one inside a converted church on the north bank of the river.
Historically, York had massive strategic importance. It was the gateway to the north and an essential bastion for defending the rest of the country from Vikings and other marauders. The city, therefore, has long stretches of walls which encircle the centre, running from one side to the other, around the back of the Minster and down nearly as far as the rail station. The cool thing about York’s walls is that you don’t have to pay to walk on them. You just climb the steps along many of the gatehouses that line the route of the wall and take a stroll, overlooking the city. It’s a magical experience and helps you get your bearings.