York is essentially a small city. Its city center is a hive of activity surrounded by the safety of its ancient walls and looked over by the watchful spire of the giant Minster. The following are descriptions of some key areas in and around York and the kind of attractions, shops and businesses you are likely to find in each of them.
Located on the outskirts of the city is this pleasant little village, home to the Archbishop of York's Palace. Just a short walk away is the Selby cycle track, built on top of the old railway line. As such, this is a superb flat, straight path, great for cycling and marvelous scenery to boot. Those with a keen eye will notice that every few meters there are curious metal globes. These are in fact scale models of the planets in our solar system and the ten miles between York and Selby have been mapped out accurately so that the distance between these models is relative to that of the real planets in space.
Despite being known by locals for its hospital, this is a predominantly residential area which is also home to Bootham Crescent, the playing grounds of The Minster Men, York City F.C. Only a short distance away from the city center,
Where else to start but with St. Peter's Cathedral, or as it is known to most people,
The most famous street in York has to be
This large area in York toward the northern edge of the city is home to the
A quiet village on the edge of the city. It is, for the most part, residential and although there are only a few small shops here, you will find some fine, traditional English pubs like
York Racecourse/Tadcaster Road
Horse racing is one thing that York is especially famous for. Head to the York Racecourse to get your fill of betting and horses. Tadcaster Road is usually most peoples' entrance (or exit) to York, and is host to many pubs such as
Micklegate is possibly the most famous street in York with the exception of
This is a small area of York on the edge of the city center whose main feature is the
About ten minutes drive from York is this small village, known to many as the home of the Bass Brewery, John Smith's Brewery and Samuel Smith's Brewery. It's a wonder the locals aren't pickled.
Located on the edge of the city, this area of York contains an ever growing shopping area as well as numerous places to eat and drink.
York is a remarkable city. Rich in history itself, it also boasts many hotels with histories of their own. When looking for somewhere to stay in York, visitors will discover individuality and a wide variety of accommodation on offer. Whether you require a simple B&B, or are looking for a superior hotel to celebrate a special occasion, there really is something for everyone. The majority of accommodation is within easy reach of the city centrer, with its many shops, restaurants, pubs and tourist attractions. Many of the hotels and B&B's are situated in clusters along the main roads leading into the city center.
Gillygate, Haxby, Bootham, Bishopthorpe, Fulford, Holgate Roads and Heworth village all offer a number of reasonably priced B&B's and hotels. Ideal for those on a budget, good basic accommodation is available with the added bonus of being within walking distance of the city centre. Try the Cornmill Lodge Vegetarian Guest House or Mowbray House, both on Haxby Road. Ascot House is situated in a delightful residential part of York, close to Heworth village with its parade of shops and gardens. The family run Heworth Court Hotel is popular with visitors and locals alike as it has a friendly atmosphere and also offers superior rooms in a Victorian house nearby. The Jorvik Hotel in Bootham has its own garden restaurant, and also overlooks the Museum Gardens, so is in a prime location for shopping and sightseeing. There are a number of hostels to choose from such as the York Backpackers Hostel in Micklegate and The York International Youth Hostel in Clifton. Both provide basic accommodation. Self catering accommodation is also available, for example try the Bootham Park View Holiday Apartments.
Bootham provides visitors with a selection of accommodation moderately priced, such as the Abbots Mews Hotel, formerly a coachman's cottage dating back to Victorian times, it is set in its own beautiful mature gardens and has a first class restaurant. The Newington on the Mount is another well-priced hotel, offering good accommodation, an indoor pool, morning papers and a theatre ticket booking service. The Posthouse York on Tadcaster Road, as part of a well known chain, is renowned for providing good accommodation and services. It also has a weekend play room for the children as well as a baby listening service. The Galtres Lodge Hotel could not be better placed, standing as it does in Low Petergate, one of York's best known medieval streets.
Expensive: The Mount and Tadcaster Road are host to some of York's finest hotels. With the city centre close by and the racecourse even closer, it is not only location that makes these superior hotels so special. The Mount Royale has many unique features such as garden rooms with semi-tropical plants and a heated open air pool. The Marriott Hotel has amazing views of the racecourse from its 'Grandstand Rooms' as well as its own leisure club. The Elmbank Hotel displays art nouveau style throughout and its elegant surroundings are ideal for wedding receptions, for which it provides comprehensive packages.
The Novotel is in a desirable location alongside the River Foss and is a popular hotel offering an indoor pool, a play area and a baby listening service. Most of the hotels in York welcome families and provide family rooms upon request. Also try The Churchill, which is a converted Georgian building set in its own grounds and has a pianist playing in the lounge most evenings. The York Moat House by Ouse bridge overlooks the river and has its own restaurant and gym, for race fans this is just one of many hotels which offer special packages for race meetings. For a touch of York history The Monkbar Hotel is located opposite one of the gateways into the ancient city center and has the added attraction of offering excellent conference facilities. But for something a little different, Lady Anne Middleton's Hotel in Skeldergate consists of a former organ factory, a former sawmill and three distinct houses, one named after a well known visitor—Charlie Chaplin. Ultimately, for the most spectacular of locations, look no further than the Dean Court Hotel. With an award-winning restaurant, this hotel stands literally in the shadow of the city's crowning glory—the breathtaking York Minster.
York has a number of exquisite deluxe hotels for those wishing to be truly spoiled. The Mount boasts The Ambassador Hotel, which offers elegantly furnished, individually designed rooms as well as an excellent restaurant. Set in its own grounds, this Georgian town house is the perfect setting for weddings and conferences. The Judges Lodging Hotel is ideally situated in the heart of the city center. This Grade 1 listed Georgian town house is bursting with historical interest. Tastefully furnished, it provides excellent accommodation and displays many original features. The Hilton York, close to Clifford's Tower and the Castle Museum, is a modern hotel offering first class business and leisure facilities. It also boasts the popular Henry J. Bean's restaurant. The Royal York is adjacent to York railway station. This large Victorian hotel has 158 rooms and a state-of-the-art business center. Many of the other larger hotels in York, offer impressive conference facilities, some with purpose built business centers, most with individual packages to suit all requirements. The Middlethorpe Hall on Bishopthorpe Road is a truly special place to stay. Built in 1699 it is a very stylish and grand country house offering the very best of facilities including a health and fitness spa and beautiful mature gardens.
Wherever you end up you are bound to have a comfortable stay in this most welcoming of cities.
There is something quite magical about York, once visited, never forgotten. York maybe a relatively small city but it has much to offer the visitor in the way of entertainment. Experience it all; everything from cinemas to art galleries; from ghost walks to themed cruises.
STAGE & SCREEN
Theatre and Opera - Why not start with a performance at the Theatre Royal, which is the venue for regular productions of plays by Shakespeare and other popular classics. The Joseph Rowntree Theatre hosts performances by York's own Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, and for the full range of concerts, comedy, theater and dance visit the Grand Opera House.
Cinema — York has an excellent art-house cinema in City Screen that, unique to its genre, boasts three screens and luxury seating. Here you can catch screenings of independent, mainstream and world cinema as well as educational events, talks and previews. To see the blockbusters visit the Odeon in the city center, or the giant and modern Vue Cinema north of the city in Clifton Moor Retail Park, where the choice is much greater.
Fancy a flutter? York's racecourse is affectionately known as the Ascot of the north. This sterling venue hosts many of Britain's top meetings on the racing calendar. Its proximity to the city center is ideal. THE MUSIC SCENE
Classical Music — If you just want to close your eyes and listen to sweet music, York is the perfect place to experience classical concerts in the most tranquil of settings. Lunchtime recitals are held at York Minster and include performances by the York Musical Society Chorus & Orchestra. Similar religious and historical venues for classical events include the St. Michael le Belfry Church, just opposite the Minster, home to the Yorkshire Bach Choir, the Central Methodist Church and the Guildhall. Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, located in the University of York in nearby Heslington, holds many unique musical events with performers such as the Hilliard Ensemble.
Live Pub Music — If you want to stay local then all is redeemed by the dynamism of York's live music scene. Venues such as Fibbers have been host to some top names through the years and continue to promote local talent alongside popular gigs. York pubs often provide space for evenings of live music, spanning the taste spectrum from folk to rock, punk and pop. For years the Northern Wall, the Black Swan and the First Hussar have attracted punters wishing to make more of their time down the boozer.
Jazz—Jazz lovers can catch regular gigs at The Maltings and Borders Books, while the Red House café and antiques center has a resident pianist providing a swing to Thursday evenings.
Nightclubs — Those caught with the desire to move those feet and swing those hips are probably wondering why there's been no mention of nightclubs so far. The simple fact is York is not blessed with the crop of the clubbing scene. Of the city's few clubs, Toffs, Ziggys and Ikon & Diva (the names give them away somewhat) and the Gallery appeal to mainstream and student tastes. Most serious boppers head off to Leeds, not far by train, but they may wish to sample one of York's many pre-club venues first to get them started.
York hosts a variety of cultural events from the Mystery Plays to the York Carnival. There are always buskers about in York, particularly in the summer along Parliament Street and in the squares. So if you just fancy wandering and taking in the evening in this most intriguing, historical city, York's narrow streets, packed with restaurants, bars and cafes will do more than to suffice. You could even take in a Ghost Hunt on your evening travels, a novel and humorous experience of the city's dramatic past.
Eburach to Eboracum—The Roman Invasion
Two thousand years ago the region that we know as York was called Eburach, which is thought to have meant "the field at the meeting of the waters," the rivers Ouse and Foss. Eburach was at that time a small settlement of fierce, war-like tribes known as Celtic Brigantes who were subdued by the invading Roman army marching north in search of a secure and defensive position on which to build a fort. They chose this site at Eburach, which then became the Roman military capital in the north known as Eboracum. There is a 4th century Multangular Tower still standing in the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum Gardens, which is an excellent example of Roman military architecture. The Romans occupied the city until the year 410CE. During this time a series of Roman Emperors, amongst them the famous Hadrian; Severus and Constantine the Great, had all exerted their considerable influence on the town, which was demonstrated in the many improvements made, such as baths, sewers, roads and drainage and from this the city grew and prospered.
Eoforwic—The Dark Ages
When the Romans finally withdrew their army in order to protect the rest of their Empire elsewhere, Britain once again became vulnerable to the many attacks from both sea and land. From the north came attacks by the Picts and the Continent Britain was attacked by the Angles and the Saxons. In the 7th century, the Anglian King Edwin unified the provinces of Deira and Bernica and the city previously known as Eboracum now became Eoferwick, the capital of Northumbria. Edwin was converted to Christianity and baptized in a wooden church near the future site of the present Minster and it was during this period that Eoferwick became a center of religion and education.
In the 9th century, the Vikings attacked Eoferwick by both land and sea. In 867 the Vikings sailed across the North Sea to the Humber; they landed an army at Barton-on-Humber and approached Eoferwick stealthily from behind whilst the fleet of Viking warships were able to navigate their way up the river Ouse. Their long narrow boats made it easy to maneuver in relatively shallow water, and thus they were able to surround the city. The Vikings took possession and renamed the city Jorvik. Many of the street names still remain the same now as in the Viking days. Interestingly, several of the York street names still end with the word "gate," which was the Viking word for street. Numerous important archaeological finds from this era can now be seen at the Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate. Jorvik became an affluent city of trade and commerce, particularly with the Scandinavian countries.
York—Under Norman Rule
In 1068 William the Conqueror attacked and captured the city, which by now had come to be known by the English name of York. A wooden tower, known as Baile Hill, was built to guard the city and later a second tower, or fortified castle, named York Castle was built on the opposite side of the river. This second site is where Clifford's Tower now stands; built on the original moat, but at the later date of 1244, by Henry III. Religion flourished during the Norman period and proof of this can be found in the many religious buildings which archaeologists have found the remnants of, in and around York. The foundation stone of St. Mary's Abbey is known to have been laid by William II and the parts of the Abbey still standing are an impressive sight indeed.
The River Ouse became the main route for trading and areas for docking and storing goods were enlarged throughout the Middle Ages. This was the age of the Guilds, which were associations of craftsmen, merchants and traders, who met to discuss business in the guildhalls. There are quite a few surviving examples of these guildhalls in York such as the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, the Merchant Taylors' Hall and the rebuilt Guildhall, which was destroyed by fire in the last war. By 1472 York Minster was almost complete and many other monasteries, religious houses and parish churches were being rebuilt or altered.
Tudor and Stuart York
York played an important part in the War of the Roses. In 1486 Elizabeth of York married Henry VII, which brought the two warring houses of York and Lancaster together and is commemorated in the famous Rose Window in York Minster. In the 16th century the King's Council governed the North of England from its seat at King's Manor, which at that time was within the grounds of the old St. Mary's Abbey. York continued to be an important city for trade and commerce until the 17th century when the Civil War disrupted this growth of prosperity. York became instead a city subjected to attack and then capture in 1644 by Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarians. The Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 was the last occasion that traitors' heads were exhibited on Micklegate Bar, one of the four principal gateways to the city of York.
By Georgian times York had become an important coaching center, flourishing still as a market town but with less concentration on the use of the River Ouse as a means of transporting goods. To accommodate the increasing road traffic, streets were widened, giving improved access to places such as the newly built Grand Assembly Rooms by Lord Burlington in 1732, and Mansion House, home to the Lord Mayor of York. York became an elegant center of fashion and also a center of craftsmanship.
Prosperity and squalor rubbed shoulders with each other; cholera broke out in 1832 and again in 1848. Typhus fever hit the city in 1847, probably caused by the unsanitary conditions in the city at that time. York's population expanded from an estimated 12,000 in the 18th century to nearly 70,000 by the end of the 19th century, this increase in population inevitably brought dramatic changes to the city. The much-needed changes included new roads, bridges and buildings, in order to accommodate the increasing traffic and housing problems, and in 1877 a station was built for the new form of transport, the steam engine. The railway had arrived in York. George Hudson, who was Mayor and also a Member of Parliament in the 1830's and 1840's, was mainly responsible for this new development. Sadly, the only significant remaining Victorian Buildings still standing in York are the Royal York Hotel and York Station, which was designed by Thomas Prosser. As a reminder of the past, York's National Railway Museum celebrates railways from the 1820s to the present day.
Present Day York
This is a city in which the old and the new can be seen side by side. Modern day gift shops are set in picturesque medieval cobbled streets. Stone walls still surround the city. Norman castle towers and medieval manors mingle with the 21st century. Each complements the other and nothing looks out of place.