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Views of York

We already know that York is famous for its Viking and Roman roots, but did you know that this picture-perfect city is filled with a plethora of interesting facts that sees tourist flock from all over to discover.

From its excellent shopping experiences to its thirty world-class museums, there’s so much to see and do in York. So, if you are seeking the best things to do in York, look no further than our assortment of interesting facts, bringing you the best of what to explore whilst visiting this historic city.

The walled city of York is famous for its interesting history and a wealth of wonderful attractions to discover at any time of year. But what else is York famous for?

Read on to discover 6 things York is famous for…

1. Its plethora of public houses

Bartender pouring beer

Known for its multitude of pubs scattered across the city, tallying up to over 365, it’s no surprise that York is home to one of the longest serving pubs in the UK.

Also considered to be one the oldest pubs in York, the Grade II listed, Ye Olde Starre Inne can be found settled along one of the first stone-paved roads in York, Stonegate, and it holds the longest continuous licence of a pub in York.

Built in 1644, the historic hideout is also claimed to be one of the most haunted pubs in York, making it a great stop if you’re seeking a spooky destination for Halloween. Its 10th century cellar is believed to have been used as a hospital and mortuary for soldiers during the Civil War, so you may catch sight of the soldiers themselves or an old lady and her two black cats roaming the premises.

2. The historic Shambles

York Shambles

Prominent since the Middle Ages and one of the UK’s favourite oldest markets, The Shambles are a true spectacle to be seen. Once home to an impressive 25 butchers, the Elizabethan buildings now stand to offer some of the best-preserved medieval shopping experiences in Europe.

A prominent feature of the open shop-fronts are the building’s shelves, and with the Anglo-Saxon word for ‘shelf’ being ‘Shammel’, the street’s name has since developed to what we now know as ‘The Shambles’.

Presently, the street offers a mixture of timber-framed buildings housing quaint shops and inviting cafés, it is also a bustling hotspot for Potterheads, with the famous Harry Potter location of Diagon Alley being inspired by its cobbled channels. Offering its visitors many magical shops and even the chance to mix your own potions, it’s just one of many wonders to be seen whilst on a holiday in North Yorkshire.

Be sure to take a look at our collection of 17 Harry Potter filming locations for a truly enchanting experience.

3. The long-awaited construction of York Minster

York Minster

Constructed between the years of 1220 and 1472, the imposing beauty of the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York took over two and a half centuries to complete. Boasting around 128 stained glass windows, made from more than 2 million separate glass pieces, the Gothic cathedral embodies all the major stages of Gothic architectural development.

Presenting Early English-style in the north and south transepts of the building, while the octagonal-shaped Chapter House and nave boast Decorated-style, and the quire and central tower were built in Perpendicular-style, you are sure to find unique splendour at every point of the building.

Withstanding devastation such as William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North in 1069 and the 1984 fire caused by a lightening bolt, the minster still stands as a prominent place of worship and prayer, attracting visitors from across the globe for thousands of years. A truly extraordinary structure, well-worth a visit.

4. York Castle, built by William the Conqueror

york caslte

Used as a military base, a tax office and treasury, an administrative headquarters, a prison and a court, York Castle was once undoubtedly the centre of government for the north of England. In use by the Crown for almost a millennium, the Crown Court is still present on site, and people accused of serious crimes are still tried here.

The old motte-and-bailey now known as Clifford’s Tower is home to rich history. Burnt by Danish invaders in 1069 to then be rebuilt for the devastating event of the Massacre of the Jews to take place in 1190, the castle has been demolished and reconstructed a number of times, meaning that much of the stonework from the medieval era has been replaced, with Clifford’s Tower being the exception.

The historic castle sitting atop the earth mound now stands to offer its visitors wondrous views over the city of Old York, and even offers glimpses of the North York Moors, making it an extremely scenic spot to begin your exploration of York.

If you’re looking to live like royalty, be sure to browse our castle accommodation for a holiday let like no other.

5. Its extensive city walls, occupying 21.5 hectares

York City Walls

York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. Typically being 13 feet high and 6 feet wide, the walls occupy around 50 acres, resting near to the picturesque banks of the River Ouse. Taking the average person around two hours to walk the whole way around the walls, they offer the best way to explore the city by foot.

Despite York being invaded by Danish Vikings in AD 866, remains of the walls’ traditional features from the Roman times are still evident in its four fortified gateways, including arrow-slits and gun ports, sculptures, and masons’ marks.

Perfect for exploring whilst on a historic holiday, the city walls of York is just one of many circular walks in Yorkshire.

6. Its ghost walks and spooky stories

Cobbled street in York

Deemed to be the most haunted city in Europe by the Ghost Research Foundation International in 2002, the streets of York make the perfect place for a spooky experience. The Golden Fleece pub is named one of the UK’s spookiest locations for its sightings of fifteen different spectres, with Lady Alice Peckett being the most spotted. Wife of the mayor of York, John Peckett, who was also the owner of the hotel, it is said that she can be seen wandering the premises in the small hours of the night.

Not only is York Museum the perfect place to enrich yourself with the history of the area, it’s also known to be one of the most haunted places in York and home to one of the most infamous York ghost stories. Or choose to explore the scary sites up close on a guided ghost tour, weaving in between the narrow passageways of the likes of Lund’s Court, or take a trip on a Ghost Bus for a day out with a difference via a classic 1960’s Routemaster bus adding to the authenticity of your experience.

With York offering some of the UK’s best ghost walks, there’s plenty of history and mystery waiting to be discovered.

Be sure to browse our York travel guide for more fun-filled activities on your break to Yorkshire, or simply sit back and relax on a luxury York escape; whatever type of holiday you’re seeking, we have it all.

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