York was originally settled by the Romans in 71 BC and given the name Eboracum. During the Saxon era the name was changed to Eforowic and the city became a centre for the diffusion of both Christianity and the medieval culture. Later, the city was declared the capital of a Danish Kingdom and given the name Yorvik. The period from 1100 to 1500 saw York establish itself as England’s second city and grow to become a strong business centre. The old city is enclosed within an ancient 4.8km long wall. Even today ,York bears signs of its historic and noble past, including its Georgian buildings, St Helen’s Square with its Gothic church and York’s famous cathedral, which dates back to James 1st period and is regarded as one of the finest in England.
St Helen’s Square is flanked by interesting and historic buildings. The square forms the departure point for the pedestrianized Stonegate Street. The street, lined with old shops, sits on top of the ancient Roman road: Via Praetoria. The Neo-Classic Mansion House (1730) is located in the south west corner of the square. The Assembly Rooms in Blake Street are located to the north of the square. This elegant Palladian style building has an interesting interior, which includes a room with 50 Corinthian columns. The geographical centre of the city is formed by the wide Parliament Street, and The Pavement. Parliament Street is the site of the Mail Coach Inn, built above the remains of an old Roman Baths and The Pavement is lined with numerous ancient timber- framed buildings. Other fine examples of 15th Century Medieval timber-framed buildings can be seen in the shops lining The Shambles. Splendid examples of Gothic timber-framed architecture can be seen in the 14th Century Trinity Chapel and the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. The Hall, located at N° 40 Fossgate, was occupied by a merchant corporation and possesses an ancient hospital. The road that leads from Fossgate to Walmgate, houses the Gothic church of St Denys and St Margaret’s Church, with its beautiful Norman Door (1160). The original site of the Coppergate settlement is now home to the reconstruction of a Viking village street. Visitors can pass along the street on board a small train. The Jorvik Viking Centre presents an exhibition which illustrates the various stages of the archaeological excavation, which has brought to light England’s best preserved example of a Viking village. St Mary’s Church in Castelgate is the site of the Heritage Centre, which houses the “York Story,” a permanent display about the history of the city. Fairfax House is located nearby and was the Georgian residence of Viscount Fairfax. The building contains a ballroom,cinema and a fine collection of porcelain and 18th century watches. Clifford’s Tower, built at the request of Henry 3rd, stands on a man- made hill, originally the site of a wooden fort erected by William the Conqueror.
The York Castle Museum stands next to Clifford’s Tower and hosts the Eye of York, an English folklore museum, which has reconstructions of a dining room from the James 1st period; a typical cottage from the Yorkshire moors and Kirgate, an imaginary Victorian street complete with houses, shops and horse-drawn carriages. The National Railway Museum is located in Leeman Street and is the largest museum of its kind in the world. The museum is dedicated to two centuries of British railway history and houses examples of locomotives, railway artefacts, Queen Victoria’s railway carriage together with the latest developments in the field of railway transport.
York is a small, historic city with narrow streets and is therefore best seen on foot. The city’s various sites are all located relatively close to each other and the pedestrianized areas are among the largest in [Europe]. The best way to approach the city centre is to leave your car in one of the Park and Ride areas. This service, available in all areas around the city, permits the driver to park his car free of charge and to take bus to the centre. The buses are modern and they run frequently. The ticket price is low and children under the age of sixteen, travel free, when accompanied by an adult.
Hotels and lodging
Being one of the UK's most popular tourist locations, York unsurprisingly features a wide array of accommodation options. These range from budget hostels to luxury five-star hotels and stylish rental apartments. Whatever your budget it should be possible to find suitable places to stay in York. However it is always advisable to book as far in advance as possible. During the high season and on race weekends it can be extremely difficult to find accommodation.
- YHA York Hostel. Located within a Victorian house, this hostel is within walking distance of the city centre.
- Novotel Hotel York. (+44)1904 611660. Situated beside the river and just outside the city walls, this is a comfortable and good value (if unexceptional) hotel near the city centre.
- Marmadukes Hotel. The Marmadukes hotel enjoys an excellent city centre location only a short walk from York minister and the historic city walls.
- The medieval wall, one of the finest example in Europe, runs for 5 km. encompassing the city. The external part of the wall can be observed while driving or walking around the Ring Road. A more interesting view of the wall can be had while patrolling around the top of it from gate to gate, referred to as “bars”.
- Monk Bar is the finest example of the city’s gates. Located at the end of Goodramgate, it is built on three levels, with a fully working portcullis. Amongst the various carved figures, decorating the gate, are men ready to hurl stones at the city’s invaders.
- York Minster is the largest medieval church in England. This Gothic masterpiece contains a large number of stained glass windows. The windows are notable for the wide variety of themes featured in them, from subjects chosen by clerical donaters to those reflecting York Minster ecclesiastical patronage.
- The north face of the church is undoubtedly the most beautiful. The west towers are characterised by pinnacles and flaming red decoration, which contrasts with the simpler structure of the northern transept.
- Visiting the Yorkshire countryside is the best way to capture the authentic spirit of this region. The landscape in this area is characterised by moor-land, lush valleys and picturesque villages.
- The area is served by the A1, M1, M62 and the A59 roads.
- The Intercity train calls at York and Leeds and it is from here that trains and buses depart to link the outlying villages.
- Yorkshire extends along three main valleys: Swaledale, Wharfedale and Wensleydale and along a series of minor valleys, such as Deepdale.
- The steep sides of this valley create an interesting contrast with the surrounding moor-land. The area is a national park and offers many possibilities for magical walks and open-air pastimes.
- A tour of Swaledale allows the visitor to follow the river Swale which crosses the moor and then descends a series of waterfalls, before arriving at the lower slopes near the villages of Richmond, Reeth and Thwaite.
- Grassington is the departure point for a visit to Wharfedale, a valley characterised by the contrast between the moor, the limestone rock and the riverside village.
- The more experienced hikers are attracted by Yorkshire’s Three Peaks: Whernside (736 mt.), Ingleborrough (724 mt) and Pen-y-Ghent (794 mt). Those able to climb the three summits and complete the 32 km. route in under 12 hours can become a member of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club.
- Castle Howard, residence of the Count of Carlyle, is situated east of the A64, north-east of York. This neo-classic palace is surrounded by a magnificent garden and an enormous park. Paid entrance allows the visitor to admire the building’s interior and its Italian frescos. In the Orleans room there are portraits by Carracci, Parmigianino and Rubens.
- The building’s chapel houses works by Sansovino and the Pre-Raphelite glass-work by Burne-Jones.
Maps and transportation
Getting to York
Practical information and resources
Currency : English pound, sub-divided into 100 pence
Electric supply: 240 volts. The plugs require the use of an adaptor.
Climate : May and June can be both cold and sunny. July and August are the only months when fine weather is guaranteed, with temperatures which vary from 25 °C to 28 °C. The temperature drops below freezing in winter with strong winds and rain. The wettest months are April, September and November.
Opening hours : The banks are open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 3:30pm. Post offices are open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5:30 pm. Shops are open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm; some open until 10pm and others close at 5:30pm. Telephones : To call dial 0044, followed by the area code without the initial zero.
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