Nothing like curling up on the couch with a nice hot cup of tea and trolling Trip Advisor for great destinations to explore next! I know, I know...I'm nuts for travel. Sometimes I find myself Googling a new destination and looking at it in the 360° view just to feel like I'm there...or to at least tide me over until I can get there. Well, this time I stumbled across a great little (and I mean that literally) street called The Shambles in the city of York. I saw one picture and knew I was hooked! I had to see this medieval shopping street for myself.
(Above: Going through one of the many corridors that lead you to yummy treats, musicians, and shopping of all sorts.)
(Above: The spinach & chickpea roll was mouth watering good!)
The Shambles dates back to the days of William the Conquerer but had been rebuilt during the 1400's. What you see today is what it would have looked like during the Middle Ages. If you're a Harry Potter fan, this place looks just like Diagon Alley...I mean, Universal Studios has reconstructed that perfectly, but this is as close to the real thing as you'll get!
(Above: Nighttime view of The Shambles.)
As we came to the end of the madness (Saturday is a busy shopping day!) of The Shambles we were pleasantly surprised to come across a very lively jazz band and a clear view of York Minster. It was a "Ta da!" moment for sure.
We took our time weaving in and out of the crowded streets taking in all the beautiful boutique shops, tea rooms, and tilting 600-some-odd-year-old buildings and made our way over to the church of York Minster.
This fascinating holy place dates back to the 600's (yes you read that number right!) and had been built over Roman ruins. Talk about layers of history! Apparently much of the weight of the cathedral had been balanced on the columns of the remaining Roman basilica underneath the minster. The weight of the cathedral was proving to be too much for the 2,000 year old structure and needed to be reinforced during which more of this site was excavated. Your ticket will include entrance to the undercroft which is where you will find their Roman ruins display. It's like a huge underground museum! You'll get the chance to see parts of the original Roman basilica, how the basilica and cathedral columns have been blended together to make two structures in time become one, and other artifacts and treasures that were found during the renovation. There are also many church relics on display and for the kid's a dress up section where they can pretend to look and act the part of vicar.
(Above: The King's Screen was originally designed around 1420 and features kings from William the Conquerer to Henri VI.)
(Above: This Roman frieze is displayed as it would have originally. Just look at the colors and detail; it has stood the test of time.)
(Above: This is the rosary of Anthony Babington. He attempted to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and was executed in 1586. This rosary was the last thing he held minutes before his death. Spooky, creepy, and exceptionally interesting!)
We would have loved to have taken one of the tours to learn more about the church, but with little ones...I feel like I'm just lucky to at least be in one place for two minutes. But our 5-year-old surprised us and we discovered he now loves tours. In fact, he placed himself front and center to one of the group tours already underway and wanted to know more about everything. Well, that was a first; one kid down who will listen to tours...and one to go!
It was about 3:00 pm when we realized...sunset is coming (since England is so far north we get dark really, really early!), so we headed out to our final destination of the Roman fortress walls enclosing the city. They close around 4:30 pm so we wanted to make sure we got an adequate amount of time to peruse.
(Walking the Roman wall around the city is like walking history and can you get great views of the city!)
York is a lovely day out; there is so much to see and do. It really could and should be a weekend trip to give it justice, but we didn't have that time. This city is bursting with fun things to do and a must see for sure!