York - Main Sights

Main Sights

See also: York sites of interest and medieval churches of York

York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, stands at the city's centre.

York Castle, a complex of buildings ranging from the medieval Clifford's Tower to the 20th century entrance to the York Castle Museum (formerly a prison) has had a chequered history.

York's centre is enclosed by the city's medieval walls, which are a popular walk. These defences are the most complete in England. They have the only walls set on high ramparts and they retain all their principal gateways. They incorporate part of the walls of the Roman fortress and some Norman and medieval work, as well as 19th- and 20th-century renovations. The entire circuit is approximately 2.5 miles (4 km), and encloses an area of 263 acres (106 ha). The north-east section includes a part where walls never existed, because the Norman moat of York Castle, formed by damming the River Foss, also created a lake which acted as a city defence. This lake was later called the King's Fishpond, as the rights to fish belonged to the Crown.

A feature of central York is the Snickelways, narrow pedestrian routes, many of which led towards the former market-places in Pavement and St Sampson's Square. The Shambles is a narrow medieval street, lined with shops, boutiques and tea rooms. Most of these premises were once butchers' shops, and the hooks from which carcasses were hung and the shelves on which meat was laid out can still be seen outside some of them. The street also contains the Shrine of Margaret Clitherow, although it is not located in the house where she lived. Goodramgate has many medieval houses including the early 14th century Lady Row built to finance a Chantry, at the edge of the churchyard of Holy Trinity church.

As well as the Castle Museum, the city contains numerous other museums and historic buildings such as the Yorkshire Museum and its Museum Gardens, JORVIK Viking Centre, the York Art Gallery, the Richard III Museum, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, the reconstructed medieval house Barley Hall (owned by the York Archaeological Trust), Fairfax House (owned by the York Civic Trust), the Mansion House (the historic home of the Lord Mayor), and the Treasurer's House (owned by the National Trust). The National Railway Museum is situated just beyond the station, and is home to a vast range of transport material and the largest collection of railway locomotives in the world. Included in this collection are the world's fastest steam locomotive LNER 4468 Mallard and the world famous 4472 Flying Scotsman, which is being overhauled in the Museum.

York is noted for its numerous churches and pubs. Most of the remaining churches in York are from the medieval period. St William's College behind the Minster, and Bedern Hall, off Goodramgate, are former dwelling places of the canons of the Minster.

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