York – A City of Roman Emperors, Vikings and Kings:
The walled city of York was called Eboracum when the Romans founded the city in 71AD, then renamed Eoforwic when the Angles took over at the end of Roman rule in 415AD and Jórvík when the Vikings captured the city in 866AD. When the Normans took over, the name York gradually evolved. The city’s location, at the confluence of the Ouse and Foss Rivers was an important factor in York’s development and its position in British history.
York has preserved so much of its medieval heritage that visitors arriving in the city centre have a sense of being transported back in time. Its rich cultural heritage and its many layers of interesting history make York one of the most popular destinations in England.
Amble through the streets of the city and we get to experience the tangle of York’s history in its street and building features. Stonegate and Petergate were once Via Praetoria and Via Principalis, the two key streets in the ancient Roman city. Today Stonegate and Petergate still run along the same routes as they did two millennia ago. Check out the medieval red devil in Stonegate.
York Minster stands on grounds where the first Minster church was built for the baptism of the Anglian King Edwin.
Many of the street names with “gate” are a reminder of York’s Viking history and the Jorvik Viking Centre stands on the site where archaeologists uncovered Viking houses, workshops and the backyards where they stood over 1,000 years ago.
Cars are banned in the city of York so this is a wonderful place to explore on foot. Many visitors to York head for the Shambles, which has been voted Britain’s most picturesque street in the Google Streetview award.
York has 18 medieval churches, a 4.8 km medieval city wall, interesting architecture and many fine museums, but if you only have a short time here, the must-see York attractions include:
- York Minster
- Jorvik Viking Centre
- York Castle Museum
- Clifford’s Tower
- Yorkshire Museum
- York Dungeon
- York National Railway Museum
Its architecture may be medieval, but York today is modern city with lots of shops, restaurants and cafes, and a variety of festivals to keep visitors busy, not to mention the 365 pubs, many of which have interesting stories to tell. It’s a good base from which to explore the surrounding North Yorkshire countryside where there are historic houses and gardens, traditional villages, national parks and castles.
York Tourist Information
The York Visitor Information Centre in the York train station has gone hi-tech. Visitors and residents alike can get up-to-the-minute information about the city, York events, attractions, restaurants and accommodation by dialling a number shown on a TV screen in the VIC. Using your mobile phones as a TV remote control you can scroll through to find exactly what you’re looking for.