Nothing Says Medieval Quite Like York

The morning of August 24th I arrived in the quirky and ancient city of York after a pleasant drive south for a couple of hours from Berwick-Upon-Tweed. I got checked into the YHA hostel (which was quite modern, spacious and very conveniently located), had a nice snack of fried shrimp and a salad and then checked my itinerary google map containing the list of things I hoped to visit in this delightful walled city.

Luck would have it there was a peaceful riverside walking pathway I followed which took me along the River Ouse. The trailhead was located just outside the hostel leading right into the heart of the city! Now that’s handy!

It lead me right up to the Lendel Bridge boat landing along the Dame Judi Dench walk.

There used to be a ferry at this location which took people from Barker Tower, on the south-west bank, to the Lendal Tower. Lendal Bridge is a cast iron bridge built in 1863 and has colorful Gothic style details all over it which were popular in the Victorian era. The ornate parapet features the white rose of York, the crossed keys of the Diocese of York and the lions of England. Additional ironwork includes York’s coat of arms and the initials V & A, representing Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

judi dench walkAlso bordering the River Ouse at this point are the grounds of a 10-acre Botanical Garden and home to many ancient and ruinous Roman historical sights.IMG_4999

Let’s enter the gates to take a look around…

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Another very interesting ruin within the gardens was once the oldest and largest medieval hospitals – St. Leonards.

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Once inside the grounds of the hospital, I could also see the inside of the multangular tower I had just viewed from the outside a few minutes ago. This ancient Roman fortress is very impressive.

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After leaving the gardens, I started making my way along the twisted streets toward York Minster. Along the route, I came upon this ornately decorated Catholic church of St. Wilfrid on the left.

Architecture fascinates me and this city has a vast array of interesting and varied specimens. I am not a particularly religious person, but I certainly admire the people who are so devoted and highly respect them. However, I also really appreciate the craftsmanship and artistic talents of the masons who built the churches and the artists who decorated them with their fine paintings and statutes for example.
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Inside was equally ornate, including the ceiling!

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Even the organ was quite detailed with designs and colors!

IMG_5028Across the street, this brick building which houses solicitors just shouts, “Look at me!”11142418_971512042873493_8281101858849280746_nAt the end of the same street stands the magnificent York Minster. It’s a massive place and it’s quite difficult to get a photograph of its stature from up close, especially the entrance on the east end.York Minster

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It’s well worth the entrance fee to tour this stunning cathedral. Allow for quite a bit of time to do so as it is very, very large with many sights to behold. Just looking up at the ceilings makes me feel dizzy! If you’re lucky, as I was, the choir boys will enter and fill the acoustical chambers with a glorious song! It’s quite the experience.

Back outside once again, I discovered a statue of The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, who was proclaimed Emperor at this site in 306 AD, just outside the doors to the Minster. Of course, the church wasn’t built until much later. Gothic style cathedrals arrived in the mid 12th century. Walter de Gray was made archbishop in 1215 and ordered the construction of a Gothic structure in York comparable to Canterbury and building began in 1220.

After that magnificent display of gothic architecture, I decided to roam the twisty-turny streets and peek inside some of the vast arrays of extremely interesting and colourful shops which seemed to go on forever!IMG_5068York has long been well renowned for its chocolate confectionaries and there are a plethora of ‘sweet shops’ and Tea Rooms around every corner that are hard to resist so why try?

I just fell in love with these beautiful petit-fours above and the little piggies in Betty’s Cafe & Tea Room when I stopped to get some bulk English tea for my granddaughter.IMG_5067It’s so entertaining just to roam the streets and take in the sights, smells and sounds.

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York is a fascinating city to visit. Its history is so multi-faceted: Romans, medieval times, Vikings, and its elements – chocolate & confections, railways, Opera, theatre, food, pubs, museums, etc. One could easily spend 4-5 days here and still barely see and visit the numerous sights it has to offer. It’s no wonder it is one of England’s top visitor attractions.

I saw as much as I could take in during one day and I certainly was not disappointed in the least. I know that each time I travel through England in the future, York will always be one of the stops on the itinerary as there will always be something else to explore that I haven’t seen yet!

Although I thoroughly enjoyed this place, it was time to move on down the road a bit further. The following day I packed up my belongings and headed to Sherwood Forest – the land of Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

But that’s another story for another day…hope you’ve enjoyed the stop at York. Until the next time…

 

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Author: Claudia Frew

Adventuresome, independent, and fun-loving American 65-year young great-grandmother who loves to travel; often going solo!

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