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York

The de facto capital of northern England, the glorious city of York has burgeoned in recent years: top-quality museums exploring the city’s weighty history are getting better and better, the restaurant scene is fast developing and quirky and independent boutique shops and hotels are popping up all the time. Add to this the city’s sublime backdrop of medieval streets lined with timbered houses, the magnificent, cream-coloured Minster and an impressive riverbank lined with cafés and pubs and you have the ultimate UK destination. There’s so much to do, however, that a weekend here will barely scratch the surface – best make it a week’s holiday, then!

History

Since its Roman beginnings as so-called Eboracum, York has always been a bit of a honey-pot, sitting in prime position at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss. Passed from the Angles to the Normans via the Vikings, the city has long enjoyed a high status, and a rich one to boot: it became a major wool-trading centre in England during the Middle Ages, as well the prime seat of the Church of England. The city has witnessed a number of ferocious battles, particularly during the English Civil War when the entire city was besieged. Leading up to the Industrial Revolution, the city lost its toe-hold but nevertheless remained a respected social and cultural centre, and in 1839, thanks to steam-engine inventor George Stephenson, it once again basked in the spotlight as the focal point of the development of the railway, which subsequently boosted trading, in particular in locally-based Rowntree cocoa products. Tourism is its mainstay nowadays, and judging by the way the city looks today, will continue to be for some time.

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