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Our guide to visiting York Minster

Dominating the skyline of the city, York Minster is one of the grandest cathedrals in Britain and indeed is one of the largest Gothic buildings in Europe.

Located at the very heart of York in the North of England, the minster started life as a humble wooden chapel and resembled nothing like the magnificent edifice we see today. It was however, in this wooden structure, that the Saxon King Edwin was baptized in 627, which perhaps initiated its rise of importance in English religious history. Later constructed in stone and dedicated to St Peter, the Saxon holy building was then replaced by the Normans in the 11th Century and was again rebuilt in the year 1220. A further 250 years of development saw the addition of many intricate features and results in the impressively grandiose structure that we enjoy today.

There is no doubt that the Minster is visually impressive – towering over the historic city of York, the cathedral stretches 175 yards long and the cathedral spire reaches 65 yards tall and can be seen throughout the city’s cobbled lanes. The magnificent Gothic architecture shows off grand pillars, towers, arches and comical ornamental gargoyles. The central tower is large enough to fit the leaning tower of Pisa inside and if you’re brave enough to climb the 275 step spiral staircase to the viewing platform you’ll gain magnificent panoramic views of the York and the rolling Yorkshire countryside beyond.

Inside the Minster there is a wealth of historical and striking features to explore; the choir screen is lined with statues of former Kings of England, whilst exploring the vaults of the Chapter House will offer the chance to spot beasts and gargoyles amidst the decorative carvings. In the Vaults and Crypt you’ll find the treasures of York Minster which include the church’s silver plate and jewels belonging to the archbishops. The visual highlight however must be the magnificent stained-glass windows, some of which date to the 12th century – be sure to look out for the Great East window which dramatically depicts the beginning and end of the world!

Whilst visually impressive York Minster also retains its religious importance; as the seat of the Archbishop of York , the Minster is second only to Canterbury Cathedral in terms of its status in the Anglican Church.

The ultimate example of medieval Gothic architecture and with massive significance in England’s religious history, York Minster is a must-see on any visit to York as part of a driving tour in the North of England.

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