Chester, a city in the region of Cheshire, England is one of the most historically rich places in all of the UK. Founded as a Roman Fort during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in AD 79 it was the scene of many battles between the warring Welsh and Saxon kingdoms throughout the Post-Roman years. It is the largest known Roman fortress in all of Britain and has covered all periods of British history from Roman times to present day. Today it’s known for its gorgeous Tudor style architecture. If you’re a history buff like me then you’ll find Chester a truly fascinating city.
TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN CHESTER:
The walls surrounding Chester are the oldest, longest and most complete in all of Britain. The two mile circuit was built by the Romans as a defense in AD70. It will take around an hour or so to walk the circumference of the walls, which is a great way to really appreciate the history of Chester.
The Rows are completely unique to Chester with no known replica in all of the world. No one really knows exactly why the Rows were built but they do know they have been in existence since at least the 13th century. They created double storey shops and sidewalks above the four main streets of the city square.
Along with the rest of the city this stunning Cathedral is rich in history. First built in Romanesque or Norman style it was rebuilt in Gothic style from 1250AD onwards. It’s free to explore.
Located just outside the city walls is the Roman Amphitheatre which was used as a military training ground before being used for entertainment. It could sit up to 7000 spectators at a time and would show circus acts or gladiator battles. The Amphitheatre is still being excavated to this day but is enjoyed by the public in the summer months as a place to watch shows and theatre. Some historians believe it is perhaps the site of King Arthur’s Camelot. It is the largest Roman Amphitheatre in all of Britain.
The East Gate is the most visited side of the wall, directly beside the centre of the city. Surrounded by the infamous Tudor and Victorian style buildings the East Gate is crowned with the second most famous clock in England (after London’s Big Ben), the anachronistic clock that commemorated Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It’s also the best spot to get a bird’s-eye view of Chester.
Chester is the only place in Britain to have retained the tradition of a Town Crier, whose job is to regularly proclaim public announcements. The town crier can be found in a fixed spot of the high cross (centre of city streets) at midday from Tuesday to Saturday between the months of May to August, just like in the middle ages.
Chester Zoo is the largest in all of Britain and was the first built without cages and bars. It has over 20,000 animals across 125 acres.
Have afternoon Tea at the Tea Press Cafe. Not only is the ‘Afternoon Tea for 1’ delicious, big enough for two and well priced at £7 but the cafe is featured inside a crypt, which looks just like a set on Harry Potter which is awesome if you’re as HP obsessed as I am… I didn’t get a great photo as I was too keen to start eating but trust me when I say it tasted better than it looked, the Scone with Cornish cream was divine!
Chester, which is close to the border of Wales, is a gorgeous little city to explore for the day. With centuries of history preserved inside its walls it is truly a treasure.