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York is one of the most historic cities in Britain, second only to London. It has been capital of the North since the time of the Romans and still outshines all rivals even today. A busy city, overflowing with excellent shopping, markets and places to eat and drink to suit all tastes. There is theatre, cinema and street entertainment wherever you turn. Lose yourself in the city's delightful 'snickelways' and discover a city buzzing with life.
It is York's history which really pulls the crowds though. For when it comes to ancient and historic buildings, nowhere can rival York. It has the most complete circuit of medieval city walls anywhere in the country, still sporting its four main gates: radiant with ancient heraldry. You can walk along the ramparts for almost two miles and gain spectacular views of this most beautiful of city architecture through the ages surrounds you on all sides, and much of it is open to the public. There are Roman remains dotted here and there, one of the only secular Saxon structures to be found in England, ancient churches with some of the finest medieval glass anywhere, two castles, Tudor timber-framing, Restoration & Georgian elegance. York has it all.
Most famous is, naturally, the great Cathedral, popularly known as 'the Minster'. It dominates the city with its vast towers and elegant windows. It would take a day to explore in detail: Superb glass, Royal monuments, shrines and sculpture. You can even climb to the top of the tower.
Museums, of course, are rampant in the city. They house some of the most entertaining and well thought out displays to be seen in Britain. In the Castle Museum, you can take a stroll down fully reconstructed Victorian and Edwardian streets or have a go on the old slot machines. The Yorkshire Museum has captivating displays from both the history and natural history of the area, with amazing finds from the Roman, Saxon & Viking city as well as St. Mary's Abbey whose ruins stand both within and outside the museum! More ancient structures, in situ, can be seen beneath the great Minster. The World-famous 'Jorvik' Centre transports you back to the 10th century to encounter the sights, sounds and smells of the Viking city. The 'York Dungeon' is a similar 'experience' telling tales of the city's more gruesome past. York is, of course, well known as the most haunted city in Europe and you can follow many of its scary stories on one of the popular 'Ghost Walks'.
There are a number of Roman Remains still to be seen in the City of York: the famous Multangular Tower, the Roman Baths Inn, the Military Headquarters Building under the Minster and a most impressive collection of finds displayed at the Yorkshire Museum. On the opposite corner of the city walls from the Multangular Tower stood Aldwark Tower, and its excavated remains can be viewed off St. Maurices' Road, near Monk Bar. Bootham Bar, though medieval, has been the site of a city gate for nearly 2,000 years.
Perhaps the most noticeable remnant of the old Roman fortress is the Roman Column standing near the Emperor Constantine's statue, opposite the south door to the Minster. Discovered under the Minster in 1969, it was one of a series which made up the arcade of the great hall in the Roman Headquarters Building. Its impressive height of 22ft certainly gives a marvellous impression of the Roman architecture in the city.
The medieval walls of York are the most complete circuit of city walls in the UK. Its four impressive gates, or 'bars', and almost all its ramparts are open for walking around the city in daylight hours. There are three major stretches: from Layerthorpe Bridge to Bootham Bar, from the Barker Tower to Baile Hill and from the Fishergate Postern Tower to the Red Tower: a walk of almost two miles with spectacular views.