The historical and cultural wealth throughout Yorkshire screams “medieval” more so than any other English city. The extraordinary north England county backdrop hasn’t lost a bit of pre-industrial brilliance– a fantastic circular route, the 13th century city walls encompass a web of narrow, medieval streets with breathtaking York Minster at its heart (one of the finest Gothic cathedrals in the world today). Rich Roman and Viking heritage and lengthy history mingles with each beam and brick–the city’s well-touristed, modern landscape, filled with cafes, restaurants, museums, and traditional pubs, are authentic scions to Yorkshire’s history, blending seamlessly with ancient abbeys and awe-inspiring castles.
York Minster | York
York’s most celebrated cathedral (The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York or Saint Peter’s) is the biggest of its kind in northern Europe and one of the finest medieval archetypes in the country. The initial Christian church founded on the site dates to 627–the cardinal Archbishop was first chosen in 732 by the Pope. York Minster bears a long and rich history: the ceremonial heart of the ancient Roman fortress, the Basilica, was unearthed underneath Saint Peters and has been painstakingly maintained since. Surprisingly, an 866 Viking invasion didn’t destroy the original building but in 1069, William the Conqueror’s army did, and it was William’s Archbishop who redesigned it into a grand Norman cathedral. Presently, stunning York Minster is a Gothic style cathedral, built over a period of 250 years between 1220 and 1472.
York Castle Museum | York | North Yorkshire
Hundred’s of years of military and social history can be found within the wall’s of York Castle Museum, from heinous Victorian criminals to remastered Jacobean dining suites, all the way to the Space Age. Street scenes are recreated expertly, from old Victorian avenues to quaint, humble shops and even a debtor’s prison. Visitor’s will get a look at the inside of a typical English home throughout various eras with plenty authentic details. The accurately designed war trench built inside is a new exhibition bringing some of the terrors of World War One to life, from causes to fallout. With a single lane layout, the museum keeps visitors moving through the exhibits in a continuous way so no one ends up clustered around just one object or diorama stretching for a look, making the experience fluid and enticing and unique to many of the other museums around the country.
Malham Cove and Gordale | Settle
The small village of Malham is in the Pennines at the Yorkshire Dales’ southern base. The picturesque spot boasts dry-stone walls of limestone and a stream carving through the village’s center. Imagine, Malham has been inhabited for more than one thousand years with boundaries from the Iron Age still visible. Mines and mills were abounding following Malham’s founding but today tourism and farming are the frontrunners. The massive limestone rock naturally carved into an amphitheater-like formation off the cliff’s perimeter is Malham Cove, one of the area’s most beautiful attractions. The cliff’s vertical face rises almost 300 feet and the cove’s top is a swath of limestone flats. For a look at a magnificent gorge complete with cascading waterfalls seemingly right out of a fairytale, make the trip to nearby Gordale Scar, sculpted deeply into a hillside of pretty limestone. The natural wonder was created by the waters of melting glaciers over several million years.
The Shambles | York
The Shambles is now an obsolete term in England but it once referred to an open-air quarter encompassing a slaughterhouse and subsequently a meat market. Not for the faint of heart, Shambles were places where butchers killed and dressed their meat–offal, blood, and innards were a regular sight, thrown into a communal working space–usually in the center of the area. Today The Shambles in York retains a rich historical past but without the blood and guts, though some still showcase the old meat hooks outside. Inviting timber-framed buildings line the street, featuring some of York’s most enchanting shops, mostly geared to tourists but worth a look for the treasures inside. Some of the buildings date back to the 14th century, all a part of the historic meat district. As recently as the late 1800s, the street was home to more than twenty butcher shops but today none have survived.
York City Walls Trail | York | North Yorkshire
York would not be York without the alluring city walls hugging the city as a protector and no visit is complete without a stroll around them. Spanning almost four kilometers, the impressively preserved city walls are the longest of any medieval village walls in the country and welcome almost three million annual visitors who come for the history and the amazing views. With favourable weather, walk the circuit and enjoy two hours filled with the best views in York; visit the five main city gateways, amble along by more than 40 stone towers, and walk on Roman remnants built as far back as 71 AD. York’s City Walls Trail, is a great urban adventure and one made easy with the aid of the Friends of York Walls, offering organized text, maps, and pictures through on-line guides in complete, comprehensive interpretation of York’s history and the wall’s position in it.
Bolton Abbey | North Yorkshire