York, England: Castles and Churches and Pubs, Oh My!

Walking is the only way to experience York, EnglandAhhh York …. with its great city walls, castles and churches. For most tourists coming to this town, the medieval history of this great northern city is the major draw. The renowned City Walls stretch for about 3km and should be walked by all travelers with a just a little or a lot of time on their hands. The walls are dotted with castles and fortifications and every now and then a pub or restaurant breaches the old stone, allowing peaceful invaders such as yourself to rest a bit before sallying once more.

The walls are augmented by the Castle of York, a collection of fortifications, museums and administrative buildings that have been disconnected from each other over time. Clifford’s Castle, atop a small hill, is the last remaining fortification that actually resembles a fort. Greens around the castle are great for a picnic and photo-ops with the squat tower as backdrop. Be sure to visit the York Castle Museum, as well, for a look back into the sieges, battles, feasts and torture sessions that are the hallmark of any true medieval fortification.

If you’re walking the walls then you’ll eventually come across Mickelgate Bar Museum and Impervious Barrier to the Horde. This craggy, knobby, ornery looking building is 800 years old and counting. There are many other museums dedicated to the city’s past along the city walls, as well as those scattered around the nearby countryside. Many are actually former residences, such as the exquisite Georgian mansion, Fairfax House, near Castlegate; the gardens of Harewood House in the Harewood area; or Castle Howard, a breathtaking example of how the nobility lived in England.

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