On a UK road trip, we spent a few hours in Chester, and I was blown away by the city's rich history and stunning architecture. Chester is one of the oldest cities in England and has a fascinating history that dates back to Roman times. The city walls, which still stand today, were built by the Romans to protect the city from invaders, and are considered one of the best-preserved Roman walls in the country.
We were getting back on route after taking an unplanned diversion to Wales and had noticed Chester was along the way. Located on the River Dee, right next to the English-Welsh border, we knew little beyond the fact it was a walled city with a famous Cathedral, however, that was enough of a reason to stop for a few hours.
Not surprising for a medieval city, we had difficulty finding parking for the campervan but finally found a great location only a block or so from the old city center... only to realize upon our return, we had missed a sign and had earned a parking ticket! That wasn't in the budget! Look around carefully before walking away smugly from that handy spot.
This tour was very tempting but we realized we didn't have time to take it on this flyby visit. It is a firmly established fact that we always take far longer than guides suggest when we're exploring and this was one of those days where we needed to keep to a rough schedule.
The town of Chester, England is rich in history and has a fascinating past that spans back thousands of years. It was founded as a Roman fortress in AD 79 and has since grown into a bustling town with a wealth of historical monuments and buildings that attract tourists from all over the world.
Over the centuries, Chester has been a center of trade, culture, and politics, playing an important role in the development of England. It was once a major Roman military stronghold and later became a medieval trading center, famous for its two-tiered shopping rows that are still in existence today. The city has also played a significant role in England's political history, serving as a royalist stronghold during the English Civil War.
The highlight of the visit was a tour of Chester Cathedral. The Cathedral is a beautiful and historic building that has been a place of worship for over a thousand years. Chester Cathedral, founded in 1092, is a treat.
The interior of the Cathedral is absolutely awe-inspiring with its high ceilings, intricate stained glass windows, and stunning carvings.
I especially enjoyed getting close to the carvings in the choir nave.
We took the tower tour which took us right up to the roof, using the very narrow walkways and stairs to climb the different levels of the building.
There are many great views available down into the Cathedral as well as out across the city, to be enjoyed as you climb into the upper reaches. Stopping to take a photo is also a good way to catch your breath after a particularly steep flight of stairs.
The history of Chester Cathedral is just as fascinating as its appearance. The original Cathedral was built in the 11th century, but was destroyed during the English Civil War. The Cathedral was later rebuilt in the 19th century.
I love a bit of cheekiness on signage... especially in a cathedral when it is most unexpected. One of the most impressive features of the Cathedral is its eight bells, which are housed in a tower that was added to the Cathedral in the 1600s. The bells are still rung today, and their peals can be heard echoing through the city. Today only two of the bells remain in daily use.
This is the curfew bell (below) that rings every night at 9pm to tell the Welsh to leave the town.
Following our tour of the Cathedral, we still had some time before we had to hit the road so we meandered around the Cathedral Garden. The history of the garden dates back to the Roman times when it was used as a marketplace.
Over the centuries, the area has undergone many changes and was finally transformed into the stunning garden it is today. The garden features a number of significant statues, including a bronze statue of King Charles I and a memorial to the fallen soldiers of World War I. The Cathedral Gardens has an impressive array of plantings and flowers on display. From the beautiful rose beds to the serene water features, the garden is a delight to the senses. The well-manicured lawns and flower beds were a perfect place to relax and soak up the sun on a warm summer day.
Admission to the Cathedral is free, but donations are appreciated. Various guided tours are available for small fees. The Cathedral is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm, with extended hours on weekends.
Spending a few hours in Chester was a truly wonderful experience, and I highly recommend a visit to anyone who loves history, architecture, and beautiful scenery. Whether you're interested in exploring the city's rich history, admiring its stunning architecture, or simply soaking up the beautiful scenery, Chester is definitely a city worth visiting.
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