A visit to York is best begun with a stroll around the city walls, a three-mile walk, with two miles on the wall itself, that takes you along various medieval gates and gives an excellent view of York Minster. Ever since it was built in the 13th century, York Minster has been the center of religious authority for northern England. Today it is the world’s largest Gothic building and inside is the largest and most beautiful collection of stained glass artwork in the country. You can climb the central tower of the Minster, which gives you views over the narrow medieval streets known as the Shambles.
Just outside the city walls, Museum Gardens leads to the ruins of the Benedictine abbey of St. Mary and the Yorkshire museum, which contains a nice collection of medieval sculpture as well as Roman, Saxon, and Viking artifacts. Another museum worth a visit is the National Railway Museum, which houses the nation’s finest collection of steam locomotives.
The Coppergate area is the site of the city’s former Viking settlement, and Jorvik Viking Centre provides a taste of that period, including a recreation of Viking streets, sights, smells, and sounds. Nearby, inside St. Saviour’s Church, is Dig, an informative exhibit on archeology. The Castle Museum also provides an excellent full-scale recreation of life in Victorian and Edwardian times.