Fascinating Facts about York
Shopping for the ages
The medieval alleyway known as The Shambles may look straight out of Harry Potter, but did you know that this former butchers’ lane is the oldest shopping street in Europe?
Birthplace of British sweets
The city of York has a history intertwined with chocolate. Rowntrees, famous for their tangy fruit pastilles and the iconic chocolate oranges of Terry’s both had their origins in this walled city.
You can discover York’s chocolate making past at the city’s Chocolate Story Museum, or have a go at making some of your own at the popular York Cocoa House.
Fast Train to Tokyo
York’s National Railway Museum is the largest train museum in the world – and it is also the only place outside of Asia to house a Japanese Bullet train.
The Shinkansen trains can hit speeds of 200mph, and run the length of Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu.
With such a long history, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that York has picked up a few urban legends along the way.
The city is supposedly Europe’s most haunted, with its streets plagued by ghouls and ghosts from the Roman era to the modern age.
York is also home to the nation’s most haunted pub, the Golden Fleece. Spend a night locked in at this devilish boozer if you dare!
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Guy Fawkes, the famous conspirator in the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, was born in York. Fawkes’ family lived on Stonegate, and Fawkes attended St. Peter’s School as a youth.
The school still refuses to burn an effigy of their former pupil as part of Bonfire Night celebrations on November 5.
York Minster – a work in progress
York Minster is the city’s most recognisable icon. The largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, the impressive structure took 250 years to complete, from 1220 to consecration in 1472.
Even today, work continues to refurbish and renovate the wonderful collection of stained-glass and stonework carvings that add to the beauty of one of Britain’s best loved buildings.
Give us a hand
The severed hand of Margaret Clitherow forms part of the Bar Convent exhibition on the famous Catholic martyr.
The “Pearl of York”, as she was known, was arrested and later executed for harbouring and hiding Roman Catholic priests during a period of nationwide persecution.
Clitherow was crushed to death under her own front door after being condemned to public execution in 1586.
The Bar Convent
Speaking of the Bar Convent, the nunnery is the oldest living convent in Europe, having been established in 1686.
You’re welcome to book a breakfast with the nuns and explore the beautiful chapel buildings that date back to an era when Catholicism was a criminal offence across the nation.
Explore a nuclear shelter
There’s a Cold War-era secret bunker located on the outskirts of the city. Okay, perhaps not so secret anymore but you can now take a guided tour of this former bomb shelter. Built during the height of the Cold War, when fears of nuclear bombardment were at their peak, this shelter still stands much as it once did.
Explore the city by ginnel
A ginnel is a small medieval alleyway, and these can be found throughout the city centre. From Lund’s Court to Whip-ma-Whop-ma-Gate (the shortest street in the country), the city can be explored via these tiny shortcuts from main street to main street.
Also In The Area
Connect With Us
A Local's Eye View
Get the ‘local low-down’ on York with insight into great things to see and do, as well as recommended places to eat, drink and dance in the historic walled city.
Daily Highlights Roundup
A seamless week’s feed of content, providing daily choices of restaurants, attractions and events in York, as well as a comprehensive spotlight on the best upcoming high-profile concerts, productions and more.
Book Through The App
Discover and book tables, takeaways, tickets, hotels, taxis and more in York, all in the same place without leaving the app, or create and share plans to help maximise your time with friends.