Discovering the jewels that are Britain's historic cities
By Richard Green
The UK has some of the world's most popular holiday destinations. Renowned across the globe for the fantastic breadth of the nation's recorded and visible history, Britain houses some of the best ancient monuments, country houses, castles, historic cities and public buildings.
A brief visit to some of the country's greatest historic city jewels like Chester, Edinburgh, York or Stirling, and it is easy to see why people travel from all over the world to see these amazing pieces of our national heritage.
Take a stroll through the ancient streets of Chester, or Fortress Diva as it was known by the Romans, and walk along the imposing walls which still almost completely surround the heart of the city. A heart which is justly famous for the fantastic medieval two-tiered black and white buildings, with their covered shopping walkways, which make up the Rows, combined with the magnificent gothic-style Victorian Town Hall and the impressive Eastgate Clock. A good way to gain an insight into some of the murkier aspects of the city's mysterious past is to take a night-time journey around the eerie haunts of Chester on one of the Ghosthunter Trails.
Edinburgh is another fantastic city where the dark past is best explored by taking a walk along one of the many ghost trails. Dominated by the magnificent Castle, the city architecture transforms from lofty medieval tenements and narrow wynds of the Old Town as they tumble down towards the Royal Mile, through to the majesty of the Georgian New Town. While the bustling town is ever changing with the seasons and festivals, the historic city remains an incredibly fascinating ever present backdrop.
York has proved to be a city that has frequently been central in the making of Britain's colourful history. Today it is easy to relive some of the turbulent times of the past by visiting the gothic splendour of York Minster, the castle museum, or York Dungeon, or by walking around the city walls, exploring Viking York at the JORVIK centre, or simply wandering through the medieval shopping streets of Stonegate and the Shambles.
Stirling, for many, represents Scotland's historic soul, where the national heritage is most vividly brought to mind. With the National Wallace Monument standing proudly on the Abbey Craig, overlooking the site of Sir William Wallace's greatest victory, at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, in 1297, and Bannockburn just two miles away, this is a town that can never forget its history, and neither would it want to. The sense of national heritage is everywhere, seeping out of the streets of the Old Town, winding up past the 19th century jail, the medieval Church of the Holy Rude, where James VI was crowned, through to the beautifully restored 1570's Argyll's Lodging mansion house, before reaching the striking castle. A beautiful city set in a fantastic landscape setting with a truly stirring past.
To find out more about the history of this sceptred isle visit Heritage Britain. Accomodation can be easily found through local area tourist boards or booked online through one of the many UK discount short break specialists.
With so much history and natural beauty it is easy to see why millions of travellers make their way to these shores each year, while many of the locals take it all for granted and fail to see jewels which surround them.
About the Author
Richard surrently lives in Edinburgh, occasionally writing for the personal finance blog Cashzilla, likes travelling and bad music
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