York's Top Historic Sites

By Viator, March 2014

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Founded in AD71 as the ancient Roman capital of Northern England and falling prey to Viking, Saxon and Scottish invasions over the years, York has a long and tumultuous history. Today, the city is renowned as one of the oldest and most attractive in the UK, home to an array of historic sites that span over 2,000 years.

Although traces of the Romans and Vikings remain, most of York’s top historic sites date back to the medieval period, most notably the 13th and 14th century City Walls that still circle the modern center. The well preserved remains of the walls also include four ‘bars’ or gatehouses, including the monumental  Micklegate Bar, now home to the Micklegate Bar Museum and the Monk Bar, which now houses the Richard III Museum. Another prominent landmark is Clifford’s Tower, once part of the now-destroyed York Castle, which sits upon a mound overlooking the river.

It’s the dramatic gothic edifice of York Minster that earns the title of the city’s most renowned medieval building, and the 13th century cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, renowned for its exquisite stained glass. A short walk from the Minster, The Shambles is another top attraction, a winding medieval lane filled with timber-framed houses and voted ‘Britain’s most picturesque street’, and nearby, the 15th century Guildhall stands behind the equally impressive Mansion House.

York’s historic architecture doesn’t only date back to medieval times, either – the magnificently furnished Fairfax House is a fine tribute to the Georgian era and the 17th-century Castle Howard looks more like a palace than a stately home, with its striking Baroque facade surrounded by over 1,000 acres of landscaped gardens.

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