Visit Yorkshire

Guide to Historic York

The history of York, once capital of the north and second city of the realm, is as varied as the history of England. It is one of the world's most fascinating cities with surviving evidence from the different cultures that have ruled the area.

York began as a fortress, built in AD71 by the Roman 9th Legion for a campaign against the Brigantes tribe. It grew into an important city, then known as Eboracum. Constantine the Great, who later founded Constantinople, was made Roman Emperor here in AD306.

It was the Vikings, who gave York its name, derived from Jorvik or Yorwik. Norman rule was to last longer and it was the Normans who made the city a vital centre of government, commerce and religion for the north of England. Their work prepared it well for its important role in the reigns of the Plantaganet Kings, and, in 1485 when this era ended and the Tudor age began, York was at its zenith.

Long years of prosperity had ensured that the magnificent Minster had finally been completed after work lasting 250 years.

It was not until the 18th century that York became a fashionable resort and centre with Georgian elegance adding to its architectural and historical attractions.

In the following century, the Industrial Revolution and the coming of the railway marked the start of a new era of growth and prosperity. Today, York houses Britain's National Railway Museum which is the largest railway museum in the world.

The Map identifies the best known places of interest in the old city, some of which are detailed on the 'Places to visit' page. Wherever you go in York, you will find evidence of its history and make discoveries of your own.

Clifford's Tower York Minster
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