Located along the banks of the River Dee, you will find the ancient city of Chester. This area was discovered around 74-75 AD, and it was first called Deva Victrix. It’s a fascinating city full of history, stunning architecture, and things to explore for visitors of all ages.
A recent survey dubbed the region one of the most ‘British’ cities in the United Kingdom, undoubtedly an honour. Other cities that ranked high on the survey were Plymouth, Lincoln, and Bristol. How did experts rate such fabulous municipalities and put them in order?
The study evaluated several key factors including how many pubs existed in the region per 100,000 residents. Chester has 28 pubs and 12 fish and chip shops, which means there’s always something good to eat and a place to get something to drink. Another thing considered was how many days of rain the area had annually. This city gets around 137 days of precipitation, which is lower than most regions of Britain.
The Famous Walls
Did you know that this city has one of the most complete structures of city walls left in all of Britain? Taking a stroll on these ancient walls is a favorite pastime of locals and tourists alike. The Romans built these walls for protection, and it will take you about two miles to walk them in their entirety.
These city walls gave the region the nickname Fortune Deva. You can’t help but admire the views during your stroll, as you will see the Welsh Mountains on one side and a view of Chester’s stunning beautiful countryside on the other.
The Romans discovered this city back in the first century AD, and it became one of the largest settlements in Britain. Touring the city, you can still see some of the architecture from those periods, and the harbor pays another homage to days gone by. Things weren’t easy for folks living in this area, as the Viking raiders attacked this region in 1066.
The Dark Ages were difficult times indeed, and the Chester Castle was erected to house William I after the conquest of Britain. Things turned around during the Middle Ages, as this city became a prosperous trading port for this region of the country. The rows were built to help facilitate all the activities.
Sadly, during the English Civil War, the beautiful city was blockaded for over two years. This caused the residents to face starvation and constant strife, which forced them to surrender. The eras continued to pass, and the once beautiful harbour was overtaken by silt.
When the world entered the Georgian Times, the port was destroyed. If you’re over near the Roodee Racecourse, you can still see some of the original quays that were once a part of this bustling trading port.
The 10 Best Things to See and Do in Chester
There are many festivals throughout the year in this area, and the most popular are as follows:
•Chester Heritage Festival
•Chester Literature Festival
•Royal Cheshire County Show
When it comes to sightseeing, there are some places that you must visit on your trip to the area. Here is a list of locations with architectural significance or are just plain fun to explore.
1. Chester Cathedral
While there are many cathedrals in the region, Chester Cathedral is a central landmark. While it’s fun to admire the stunning architecture outside, taking an inside tour is a real treat. If you’re not afraid of heights, you should climb the stairs 125 feet to reach the spire’s peak.
Here, you will see breath taking panoramic views of the city and countryside. Did you know that parts of this church have stood for more than 1,000 years? Be sure to also stroll through the gardens as it’s a lovely spot to relax and take in all Mother Nature has to offer when the weather is favourable.
Speaking of Mother Nature, the birds are plentiful in these gardens. Tourists love trying their hand at falconry.
2. King Charles Tower
King Charles Tower is 70 feet high and hard to miss. This ancient structure was constructed around the thirteenth century. Legend has it that during the battle of Rowton Moor of the Civil War, King Charles stood on this very tower and watched his men be defeated. Shortly after this, a Parliamentary sniper nearly shot the king, but he was quickly moved to safety.
3. Chester Amphitheatre
The Chester Amphitheatre is another structure built by the Romans, but the locals only rediscovered it in 1929. The amphitheatre was once home to barbaric games like bullfighting and gladiator combat. While you won’t find anything like that here today, the grassy embankments are an excellent place to have a picnic. Make sure you see the massive mural that pays tribute to how the structure looked thousands of years ago.
4. Eastgate Clock
Right in the centre of Chester is Eastgate, which is home to the fabulous clock. Did you know that this is the second most famous clock in Britain? Big Ben, of course, gets the honour as the most famous. No wonder so many people find it picture worthy.
It’s near the Chester Cathedral and right along the riverbanks. You can’t miss this giant clock that boldly dominates the skyline, and this was once the entrance to the Deva Victrix fort. Ironically, the clock is built in red sandstone, which has helped preserve its structural integrity throughout the eras.
5. Chester Rows
This gallery of half-timber buildings has stores on dual levels. You will find a wide variety of retailers and offerings to investigate. Though there are other shopping areas nearby, this one has the architectural draw that fascinates many. The following stores are located at the rows:
•Harriet & Dee
•One-off Gifts and Jewellery
Also, don’t forget to check out the various cafes on the second floor, as they serve some fantastic food and beverages. This shopping centre is open every day from 9 am till 6 pm, and it’s the perfect place for a spot of tea.
6. Oddfellows Hotel
While the Oddfellows hotel is a beautiful place to rest from your travels, you might want to try some of their themed dining rooms. The Alice in Wonderland room is the perfect place to have some tea and take in the ambiance. There are many other rooms and themes, but the guest says the hotel’s thick, crusty sandwiches are the real winner here. This hotel has been serving up tea and welcoming weary travellers since 1882.
7. River Dee
If you love waters, you need to spend the day on the River Dee. There are cruise boats that can give you a tour of the area and many places that rent kayaks to enjoy. You can rent a boat for a three-hour tour if you love dinner cruises. You don’t have to get out on the water to enjoy it, as sitting on the banks and fishing is also a favourite pastime.
8. The Storeyhouse Theatre
If you’re looking for a good play and a night on the town, the Storyhouse theatre is the place to go. It’s just a short distance from the train station, and their up-and-coming writers help put on both modern and classic plays for all to enjoy. There’s also a rooftop bar perfect for a cocktail before the show.
9. Grosvenor Park
If you’re traveling with children, you must put Grosvenor Park on the list. This is an area where you will find a playground, open-air theatre, and a railway that’s just the right size. Since it’s located along the riverbanks, you will find many waterfront eateries and grassy areas to relax.
10. Chester Zoo
Every year more than two million people come to see the animals at the Chester Zoo. No wonder it’s the most-visited wildlife attraction in the United Kingdom. This sanctuary was the vision of George Mottershead, who opened the location in 1931. With more than 530 acres of animals and grasslands, it’s the largest zoo in the country.
There is so much to see and explore here that you need to ensure you have plenty of time. Visitors love the Indonesian-forest-themed exhibit, and with over 1900 animals calling this area home, you’re certain to find something of interest.
Whether you’re close by or passing through the area, stopping by the city of Chester is a real treat. There’s so much to see and do within this region that just a day trip won’t do. Whether you want to get up close and personal with animals, or you prefer to spend your day exploring architecture, Chester has something fabulous for everyone.
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