York occupies a special place in the economic geography of the United Kingdom, being located equidistantly between the two capital cities of London and Edinburgh in Scotland. It is this, and its situation on the river Ouse which have made it a place of importance and prominence throughout the history of this land.
Although today York has strong clerical ties, through the beautiful and eloquent York Minster, it was once a Roman garrison town during the Roman invasion and occupation of ancient Britain. York is an immensely interesting and entertaining place to visit for a weekend or longer, and if you do so, you will find yourself in very good company as Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Romans have all had the pleasure of visiting York at one time or another.
With settlements dating back to 8000 BC, York has seen conquest and triumph, has been home to emperors, nobles and kings in its time. With such infamous and eminent names as Hadrian, King Edwin of Northumbrian, and Constantine the Great to conjure with, it's small wonder that there are so many tales and stories surrounding it.
York is today a very popular tourist destination, with many exciting things for every member of the family to see and do. At he heart of York is the Minster, and The Shambles, where you can step back in time, and really feel like you are whisked back to the Middle Ages.
This was a time of great wealth for the city, when it made its name, and its gold from the wool traded from the surrounding area. Its origin was an area dedicated to butchers and meat selling, but you will find no such thing there now, as the Shambles have been lovingly restored and has a good selection of shops, boutiques and cafes, perfect for a stroll, some window shopping, or just watching the world go by with a cup of coffee.
Fun and refreshment are never far away during your York weekend as there are all sorts of festivals right throughout the year. In fact, it has been dubbed the 'City of Festivals' in the United Kingdom, and has a series of events including: The Roman Festival; the Viking Festival; the Ghost Festival; the festival of Angels, the Jazz Festival; both the Early and Late Music Festivals; Digital Arts Festival; Learning Festival; Horse Racing Festival; the Christmas St Nicholas Fair, and many many more.
With so much happening in this interesting city you may think it would be hard to get to, and park in, but York has great park and ride facilities throughout the city centre, and easy access from anywhere in the country through the East Coast Mainline Railway. Leeds-Bradford International Airport is the closest transport hub to the city for International visitors, and is just thirty miles from the city centre. Travel to and from the airport is very easy with buses and taxis available at all hours of the day and night.
Once on your York weekend, you can indulge in lots of fun activities, such as: The York Races, which have events during the racing season from May through to August; Mystery Plays, which are Medieval in origin, and have been produced in the Minster, and other historical sites; York Minster is a stunning work of architectural achievement, and has the formidable title of the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, and is open throughout the year; The Jorvik Viking Centre has a magnificent recreation of the type of Viking settlement which was to be found in the area of The Coppergate in the city; The National Railway Museum has some of the finest locomotives and rolling stock anywhere in the world, and some hero's of the steam age, including The Flying Scotsman, and The Mallard; York Castle Museum has fine award winning recreations of live in old York streets, shops and exhibitions throughout the year.
These and many other intriguing museums can all be appreciated on a short or long visit to this charming and beautiful city. One of the most popular ways to see York, and the cheapest, is to walk along the city walls. These Medieval fortifications are well preserved, and are actually constructed on the ancient Roman foundations of their walls underneath, re-cycling what had already been constructed. At the end of a busy day of sightseeing, a stroll along the walls at sunset is a relaxing end to a marvellous day.
The city centre is woven together by many very narrow walkways or 'snickelways' which are Medieval in origin, and fun to discover. They add a flavour of the ancient side whilst on your York weekend visit. Naturally there are plenty of modern diversions to be found in the city centre, including shopping malls, designer boutiques, cinemas, theatres, fine restaurants, cafes and bars: Low Petergate and Gillygate have all the usual high street stores.
If you are staying in and around York for a few days and want to venture further afield, then there are a plethora of castles, stately homes, outdoor sporting facilities, and places of interest to visit: Castle Howard is a grand historic monument and the location for the film version of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited staring Jeremy Irons. Also close at hand are; Riveaux Abbey, Nunnington Hall, Bolton Abbey, Beningbrough Hall, and Kirkham Priory. The coast is a short drive from York weekend, and has such wonderful seaside towns as Scarborough, Bridlington, Filey and Whitby to visit.