At just 33.7 km2, York is a small city. It’s almost three-and-a-half times smaller than Manchester, which itself is over three times smaller than London! Despite its size, York packs in plenty of interesting history, culture, heritage, and oddities that make the city a must-visit for any Brit or out-of-country tourist. Visitors will find lots to do throughout the year and fantastic attractions that are worth their while, all backed by stunning architecture and one-of-a-kind energy that shows off the spirit of York. 

Curious to learn more about what the city has in store? Here are eight interesting facts about York you might not know!

1. York has proud Roman and Viking roots.

Stepping foot into the city, you’ll quickly realise that every shop, alleyway, structure, and street is brimming with history. You’ll spot historic structures left and right, such as the impressive York Minster, the striking York Castle, and the never-ending city walls. That’s because York was both a Roman settlement and a Viking settlement.

When the Romans conquered York long ago, they turned it into a globally important city. If you head into the Museum Gardens, you’ll see the longest stretch of the Roman Fortress wall. When the Vikings took over, they left their own legacy and helped the city prosper even more. Once the Mediaeval period arrived, the gates (called “bars”), walls, and buildings were reconstructed and all the beautiful treasures were placed in the Yorkshire Museum.

2. The Shambles is a famous historic street teeming with medieval history.

If you’ve ever watched the Harry Potter series, you might think the Shambles looks a tad familiar. With its narrow cobblestone streets and windowed storefronts, many believe that it inspired the iconic Diagon Alley. It’s got such a long history that it was even mentioned in William the Conqueror’s Doomsday Book in 1086.

However, the Shambles doesn’t have a glamorous past, as it was full of butcher shops and slaughterhouses with a lack of sanitation facilities. Now, the streets are full of life, with sweet shops, gift shops, clothing stores, warm cafes, and a unique coin and stamp dealer, all marked with quirky shop signs.

3. York is one of the world’s most haunted cities.

York has been around for a long, long time. Most cities and towns with such a storied history usually have their fair share of ghost stories and legends, and York is no exception. The International Ghost Research Foundation has even declared it one of the world’s most haunted cities, with a whopping 500 recorded hauntings within the city walls. If that status piques your interest, you might enjoy going on a ghost tour to learn more about those tales and tragedies.

4. York was once known as the “Chocolate City”.

Part of York’s Medieval past is its reputation as the “Chocolate City”, which is a lot more delicious-sounding and less eerie than fact #3 above. The families that lived in the city at the time all had a connection to famous chocolatiers, whether it was Rowntree’s or Terry’s. There were chocolate factories just about everywhere, infusing the air with a chocolatey smell and coating the city’s surfaces with chocolate dust – it’s no wonder people started calling it that!

5. There were once so many pubs in York that you could visit a different pub every day of the year.

Rumour has it (and so does The Telegraph) that there are or once were 365 pubs in York. Whether or not there are (most locals say no), there are certainly a lot of pubs for such a small area. Many of these are traditional pubs that boast their own history and charm, dating back centuries. Up for an ale and a dance? The Hop is known for its fantastic selection of ales, delicious pizza, and live music. Looking for the oldest pub in the city? Built in 1644, Ye Olde Starre Inne is a former hospital and mortuary from the English Civil War turned warm-spirited pub.

6. York has a variety of entertainment options.

The city of York loves its entertainment. But entertainment options aren’t just focused on museums and history – there’s something for everyone, including plays, films, live comedy, cruises, bowling, live music, escape rooms, archery, and an array of festivals to attend. With a lack of city-style options like selfie galleries and rooftop bars, residents and guests are treated to a more unique and vibrant entertainment scene. Even though there are few gambling options in York apart from the racecourse and the Admiral Slots Casino, punters can play online from anywhere nowadays if they click here now!

7. York is a city that holds many records.

It might seem surprising that York holds so many records for so many “-ests”, but it’s true! York has the country’s oldest working convent, The Bar Convent, founded in 1686. It’s still operating today and has stellar reviews for its comfort, cleanliness, and atmosphere. It might be worth staying there solely for bragging rights. 

The city is also home to the longest city walls in England, named the Bar Walls. They’re so long that it would take someone two hours to walk around them. And just when you thought we were done talking about the Shambles, it also holds the record as the best-preserved mediaeval street in Europe. That’s high praise considering the many mediaeval streets on the continent.

8. York has the largest train museum in the world.

Among all the train museums in the entire world, York is home to the largest. That’s right – not the Kyoto Railway Museum or Train World in Belgium – the National Railway Museum in York! York actually has a famous railway heritage, where the first train ran from York to London in 1840. Train enthusiasts can view a Japanese bullet train and the speediest steam locomotive in the world. The best part? The museum is entirely free to visit seven days a week!

Write A Comment