Last Updated: 18th Feb 2011
For nearly 2000 years York has been the capital of the north of England, and was also an important city for the Romans, Saxons and Vikings who occupied the country during this time.
It’s a great city to just walk through and take in the spectacular Gothic cathedral and churches, the medieval city walls and tangle of historic streets. York is also home to a load of pubs for a taste of true English faire.
Castle Howard in the city is still home to the Howard family but has rooms open to the public while the Viking heritage of the city can be seen and even smelt at the Jorvik Viking Center where you can take a ‘time car’ ride through the city’s horned past. While even better is probably for a taste of interactive history is the York Dungeon from the same operators as the London Dungeon fame.
York was home to 41 churches before Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and now an amazing 20 still survive, many with their beautiful stained-glass windows. The most visited is All Saints on North Street. The church is said to be haunted, as is the church of the Holy Trinity while St Denys has York’s oldest stained glass.
Most Contiki Tours visiting York also offer the York Ghost Walk Tour as an optional excursion.
Easily York’s most famous former resident is Guy Fawkes, the man who was behind The Gunpowder Plot set in motion to kill the King of England, the King of Scotland and blow up the English Parliament and House of Commons. He was captured on the 5th of November 1605 just before he could put the plan into effect and was consequently executed for his part.
Brits still joke that he is the only man to go to Parliament with honorable intentions and the foiling of the plot is celebrated on the 5th of November every year. Known in England as Guy Fawkes Day, people light off fireworks and burn effigies of the famous man. One of the most famous/infamous men in British history, his legacy is also featured in the film ‘V for Vendetta’ with Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving.