Top Five Attractions in York
York is a unique historical city in north of England and has so many features to form its reputation as the crowned European Tourism City of 2007. There are many things to do in York, also there are many places to visit in York, particularly in the York city centre. During 2009 I visited York and really enjoyed the sightseeing of York. Now I would like introduce you to top five attractions in York in reverse order.
Clifford's Tower takes its name from Roger de Clifford, who was executed for treason against Edward II at Clifford's Tower. It is on the very site of the castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068 to subdue the rebels of the north. Today what we can see is the ruin of which rebuilt by King Henry III in the 13th century. So Clifford's Tower is considered as a proud symbol of the power of England's medieval kings.
It’s easy to get Clifford's Tower as it stands in the centre of York and is located on top of a green, grassy hill. You can see it from a distance. Climbing 55 very steep steps not only you can see the medieval artefacts, but you can also have a sweeping panorama of York.
My comments: Clifford's Tower is the Eye of York, the Eye of history.
The National Railway Museum in York is one of the largest and richest collections of railway related material in the world. At National Railway Museum you can see a turntable show at 11am when two staff work the turntable and explain how they change the direction of a locomotive; Gladstone engine, the only surviving British front-coupled express passenger locomotive and being notable as the first locomotive to be preserved by a railway society; Cast Iron Footbridge from Percy Main station, that was used to connect adjacent platforms of ordinary double track stations; Chinese Locomotive, the largest locomotive in the National Collection. Don’t miss the Japanese Bullet Train (as known as Shinkansen), the only Japanese Bullet Train outside Japan. Besides you can also have a look British Royal families on wheel and have a big picture of British Railway industry from past to present.
The National Railway Museum is next to York railway station. There are three main areas open to visitors: Great Hall, Station Hall and Outdoor Play Area. Today mainly in the Station Hall there are displays about the historical development of the railway industry and British locomotives. In the Great Hall there is a collection of locomotives from around the globe as well as other items related to worldwide railway history.
My comments: British do know how to display their history, and the UK still plays a very important role in the railway industry around the world.
Top 3: Jorvik Viking Centre
Jorvik Viking Centre is on the very site where archaeologists discovered the remains of Viking York. Historically Vikings from the Scandinavian area invaded the North of England in medieval ages. During their stay on these lands they built a small city with houses, streets and it had a population of around 10,000. Today’s Jorvik Viking Centre, located within the Shopping Centre, is an active place to experience the life in 1000 years ago. Believe or not you can see, you can hear and even smell the life when you travel through a reconstruction of Viking streets or when you ‘ramble’ around Coppergate Street, which was just one of many streets in Yorvik. How can you do it? The secret is their Time Machine. How far will you be back? The answer is not far, AD 975. By the way In the Exhibition Hall you can get a big picture of Viking life, death, disease and battle, etc. Incidentally There are many interactive displays, such as talking with Viking people, trying on a Viking helmet or having your own replica coin struck by a Viking coin merchant.
My comments: an impressive site about Viking history in England.
Top 2: York Castle Museum
York Castle Museum is a social history museum. It is on the very site of York Castle and is two minutes walk from Clifford’s Tower and five minutes from Jorvik Viking Centre. It is considered to be a landmark in the development of museums.
What to do in York? At York Castle Museum you can see almost everything connecting people’s daily life. There are a few recreated rooms that represented lifestyles from Late Medieval to Victorian and on to post war. The themed exhibition of daily used products definitely can remind you of items your family had used. There is a gallery "From cradle to grave; birth death and marriage 1700 to 2000" showing how Victorians treat birth, wedding, till death and mourning. Don’t miss The Burneston Parish Hearse, which is displayed in the centre of the gallery, brought the Victorian funeral history more alive. Most importantly don’t miss the Kirkgate, a recreation of a Victorian street and named after Dr John Kirk, the founder of the museum. Kirkgate reflects the flourishing prosperity of Victorian times. Next to Kirkgate there is an area of Edwardian shops. At the other side of York Castle Museum there are a weapons gallery, a children's gallery, costume displays and 60s show, etc. Last but definitely not the least it’s worthy visiting the old cells, which once locked many famous criminals in British history including the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin.
My comments: York Castle Museum is perhaps the finest social history museum in England.
Top 1: York Minster
York Minster is Northern Europe's largest remaining medieval church, also one of the world's great masterpieces in design and construction. It’s considered as the heart and soul of York.
As the second largest Gothic cathedral in Europe, it is 158 metres long and 60 metres high. Besides admiring the magnificent buildings there are certainly a lot of things to see, such as The Rose Window, which is considered to be the most beautiful window of the minster; The Great East Window, the largest single piece of stained glass in the world; The Great West Window, also known as the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’. The Five Sisters Window, made up of five rectangular glasses. The Screen, Instead of religious figures the screen displays statues of 15 English kings; from William I to Henry VI. You can also Climb The Tower that is the largest church tower in England. The views from the top by all means are breathtaking and outstanding. Walking along the tower you can see almost all of York, even more if the sky is clear.
York Minster is very important within the Church of England. As an Anglican working church there are many special religious events as well as York activities that occur during the year.
My comments: the history of York Minster is the history of York indeed.
After visiting these famous tourist attractions in York city centre, you can have good time for shopping and easting at York Shopping area that is just around these sites. You can stay in hotels near York, also choose some hotels in York city centre. They all are very convenient for you to reach the top 5 attractions, as York city is not of a big size. However I chose a guest houses’ hotel in York named Homlea Guesthouse as my base when I travelled around York city centre.
Hope this article is helpful for you to decide what to do you in York and what to see in York while you do visit York, England.