A City in Beautiful Shambles
Don't be put off by the 13th and 14th century Roman walls that still surround the city of York. This is a welcoming city, filled with medieval treasures – some perfectly intact, others in a state of elegant dilapidation. That's because York dates all the way back to the 7th century. Situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England, the city has a strong Viking history.
You too can be part of the invasion at the Jorvik Viking Centre. Go back to 975AD in this living medieval museum. Tour a reconstructed Viking settlement and see what life was like in the 10th century. Our guess? Difficult. Ask questions with the on-site "Viking" staff (perhaps wearing the cliched hat with horns.)
You can see this museum and other sights on our York City Sightseeing Tour bus, which has a stop right in front of the train station. Get an overview of the city before striking out on your own, or hop-on and off at will. Upon seeing the awe-inspiring York Minster, you may be compelled to get off the bus immediately.
The York Minster is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe, and one of England's most spectacular cathedrals. The city has had a long tradition of creating magnificent stained glass, and plenty is on display at the church. The 76-foot tall Great East Window, created in the 15 th century by John Thornton, the finest artist of this genre, is the largest example of medieval stained glass in the world.
The Shambles, with overhanging timber-framed buildings – some dating back as far as the 14th century – probably comes from the name Fleshammels, which literally means flesh shelves. This is York's old meat market, but today, you'll only find meat hooks hanging outside a number of charming shops and eateries in this ancient district. Some buildings are so crouched together, you can literally stretch out your arms and touch both sides of the street. These "snickelways" are a collection of narrow footpaths and passageways that will have you wondering how big slabs of meat were transported here.
Before you leave York, stop by the National Railway Museum where a collection of train cars from different eras is on display. When you're ready to board a train car that's actually going somewhere, return to the centrally located station with your BritRail Pass in hand. In about 2.5 hours, be in London, Liverpool or Edinburgh.
The city may still be walled in, luckily you are not.
Contributed by: Rachel, E-business Editor, who has experienced much more of Europe than she ever imagined, traveling by train.