The Original ‘New’ York

The United Kingdom is a lovely place with a rich heritage. One of my favourite places in the UK is the beautiful town of York in northern England. York is an exciting place to visit with lots of activities awaiting you!

York was originally a Roman military settlement formed in 71 AD and called ‘Eboracum’. It was strategically located at the juncture of the Ouse and Foss rivers. Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor, was declared emperor in Eboracum upon the death of his father in 306 AD. In fact, Constantine’s mother, ‘Helen’, was born in Britannia. So, this small place in northern England can claim an enormous impact on the history of Europe.

When the Vikings captured Eboracum in the Ninth Century, they couldn’t quite pronounce its name so they shortened it to the ‘friendlier’ sounding ‘Jorvik’ which eventually became ‘York’ in English. York has less than 250,000 citizens but it makes the most out of its heritage to loom large in the imagination!

york minster cathedral

York is still a Medieval town with all the comforts and cleanliness of a modern city. The metaphorical centre of the city is the beautiful York Minster.

This stunning Cathedral was started in 1080 AD and has most of its original Gothic features including its glorious fan vaulting.

You will enjoy spending time exploring this incredible feat of ancient engineering and admiring its beautiful artwork.

This introduction to the Medieval town will be enhanced by visits to the intact ancient walls that surround the city.

York Castle and its impressive Clifford Tower are mostly intact and offer an atmospheric location for viewing the medieval city from a high vantage. The castle and tower have a sombre and powerful history that is well documented throughout the beautifully gardened grounds.

There are other fantastic historical sites in York including the Jorvik Viking Centre, the York Dungeon and York’s Chocolate Story – which is a tasty break from all of the medieval sights.

Close by is The Shambles, an authentic neighbourhood from the Fourteenth Century that is now full of boutiques, coffee shops and cool pubs. Strolling through The Shambles is a great way to amble away an afternoon.

Don’t have the impression that York is a quiet museum though. It is lively and revels in its history. There is the annual Assize of Ale, a raucous ‘pub crawl’ where everyone dresses in period attire and has fun drinking in some of the hundreds of pubs within the city’s walls! There is also a lively theatre and opera season for those who enjoy more refined pursuits. I especially enjoy the many riverboat cruises that offer fantastic views of York from the waterside.

Here’s a pro-tip: When you are filled with all of the history you can consume, head over to the York Designer Outlet for some retail therapy. It has some of the best prices for designer goods and is fun for strolling out of the weather.

York has an airport, but the easiest way to reach the city is via train through an international gateway like London, Manchester or even Edinburgh. Taxis are plentiful and the drivers are a wealth of local knowledge. In addition, the popular ride sharing services are readily available. Most of the time, though, you should simply walk. York is a fantastic place to stroll with well sign-posted access through clean streets.


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visit the city of york

There are fantastic and quirky places to stay in York. Local landmarks like the Grand Hotel and Spa are of excellent value. Increasingly, apartment short stays are popular in the area. My favourite place to stay, however, is Hazlewood Castle & Spa right outside of York.

This beautiful property has been lovingly restored to its medieval grandeur and you can feel like the Lord or Lady of the manor while staying in comfort. You also have use of the castle grounds. A stay at Hazlewood is very reasonably priced!

The cellar restaurant at the castle offers tasty treats made with local produce.

Speaking of food… York is a fabulous place to try local specialities. All dietary tastes are easily catered for in York and most feature the fresh produce of the area. A local delicacy is Yorkshire Ham with Madeira Sauce. The delicate flavour is a treat!

The Ivy has an outlet in York and is one of my favourites along with the Churchill Hotel, The Guy Fawkes Inn and La Vecchia Scuola, which features authentic Italian cuisine in Yorkshire! You must try the local Yorkshire cheeses; they are handcrafted and excellent quality.

york seafood

Here’s another pro-tip: For a fantastic and traditional high-tea try Betty’s Café and Tea Rooms in Stonegate. It was founded in 1919 and celebrates the heritage of chocolate and other sweets in York!

I’ll finish with a Yorkshire joke: “Q: How did the man from York paint his wife? A: He Double Gloucester!” OK, maybe that’s a bit cheesy! Enjoy your time in York.



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