The city of York has a long and storied history. Called Eboracum by the Vikings, the city of York was once one of the most critical financial and religious centers in the UK, rivaling London and Canterbury. York was, in many ways, unique. It was both a fort, a center of Christianity and a seat of local government, the base from which kings and queens defended the realm from Picts and Scots to the north. It was a bastion which separated England proper from the wildlands of Northumbria and the Scottish highlands.
Today, York sits at the end of its long history. The entire settlement is filled with reminders of its ancient origins, everything from the majestic Minster to the city walls and the Shambles. The whole place is both modern and of another era. It’s quite remarkable.
If you’ve ever been to York, UK, you’ll have noticed something: tourists are everywhere. But what makes it such a popular travel location. Why do people, not just from America, but all over the world, find the place so fascinating?
The Long Arch Of Its History
York wasn’t always the way it was today. In the past, the city served different purposes for different people. For much of the medieval period, York was a seat of power, much like Canterbury in the south. York is one of only two towns in the country to have an archbishop, confirming the spiritual importance of the place. The city generated enormous revenues from the surrounding population and used them to build the colossal Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in the country, second only to Salisbury.
York was also used for other things. Clifford’s tower, which now sits high up on a knoll outside the town center, was once an active fort, defending York against the numerous invaders that have tried to sack the city throughout its existence.
To say that York has its fair share of unique businesses is something of an understatement. Visiting a York cafe is quite an experience for many people who aren’t used to a traditional British afternoon tea. And the city has numerous other companies, all vying for the attention of passers-by, including many carveries, sandwich shops, and pop-up stalls.
The Shambles is almost unique in the UK. It’s an old cobbled street where old buildings from the medieval period lean in toward each other from opposite sides and almost touch. Individually the buildings are impressive but put them together on a single street, and you get a real sense of what urban life must have been like for people hundreds of years ago: crowded and chaotic.
The great thing about the Shambles is that it’s still open for business today. You can find places to eat and shops selling both clothes and jewelry. There’s also a pub if you fancy stopping off for a refreshing drink before continuing your tour of the city.
So there you have it: why tourists can’t get enough of York.