What to see in Chester

Walk the city walls and experience 2000 years of history. Cruise along the River Dee where the bustle, noise and traffic seem a million miles away. Step inside the gothic splendor of Chester Cathedral, browse around the medieval shopping streets of Eastgate and Watergate. Revel in Chester's Roman heritage at the Grosvenor Museum.

Town Crier Proclamations

Chester's Town Crier making a traditional proclamation at The Cross.

The Town Criers still make traditional proclamations at the Cross which stands near the junction of Eastgate Street and Bridge Street. Regular midday proclamations are made Tuesday to Saturday from May to August. Located at the pedestrianised intersection of the four main streets of Chester, the High Cross has been the site of proclamations since the Middle Ages. Indeed it was on this very spot in 1646, following the Great Siege of Chester, that King Charles I was proclaimed a traitor. Chester’s town criers are David and Julie Mitchell, the only husband and wife town crier team in the world. David Mitchell has won a number of Town Crier Championships and has written a book about the roles of the town crier and bellman from Old Testament times through to the present-day tourism revival

Roman Amphitheatre

Model of Chester's Roman Amphitheatre For more than 300 years, Chester was the site of a Roman legionary fortress. Established in the mid-70sAD, the fortress was known as Deva, after the Celtic name for the river Dee on which it was located. About AD 100, an amphitheatre was built immediately outside the south-eastern corner of the fortress defenses. The Chester amphitheatre is one of the largest known from Roman Britain. Today almost half of the structure, including entrances on the eastern and northern sides, is visible. It is thought that the amphitheatre could have held up to 7,000 spectators sitting on tiered rows of wooden seats, arranged similar to a modern stadium.

Medieval Walls

Chester's walls viewed from the Northgate Chester's city walls are the most complete circuit of a Roman and Medieval defensive town wall in Britain. For 2000 years the walls have evolved to provide a unique thread through time, linking all the main episodes in Chester's history. Today the City Wall is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, owned and maintained by Chester City Council. The Walls form a remarkable 2 mile (3km) circular walk around the historic city giving a vivid reminder of what a medieval fortified town was like. There are numerous entry and exit points. Using them is free and, as a public thoroughfare, they are open at all times. They can be experienced as a complete walk or in shorter, convenient sections. A walk around the complete circuit takes about an hour but may take longer (perhaps two hours or more) if you want to stop and take in the sights.

Grosvenor Museum

Grosvenor Museum, Chester At the Grosvenor Museum you can discover the history of the fascinating city of Chester and the people who have made it so special. It houses an impressive collection of Roman Tombstones, along with fascinating displays that build a picture of Roman Chester. Admire the dazzling craftsmanship of the nationally important collection of silver and enjoy the beauties of half a millennium of art. Discover and explore Chester's impressive geology and natural history. Make sure you discover 20 Castle Street, a town house that takes you back to home life from the 17th century to the 1920s including Mary in her Victorian kitchen, a Georgian drawing room, a nursery and a fully fitted Edwardian bathroom.

Grosvenor Park Miniature Railway

Miniature railway at Grosvenor Park, Chester The Grosvenor Park Miniature Railway is a 7¼" gauge railway located only a few minutes walk from Chester's historic city centre. The railway, built in 1996 to commemorate the centenary of the Duke of Westminster's railway at nearby Eaton Hall, is popular with young and old alike and has become one of Chester's top tourist attractions. Grosvenor Park is the main ornamental park in Chester and is extremely popular with residents and visitors to the City alike. It is typically Victorian in its layout with formal avenues lined with trees, statues, large sweeping lawns surrounded with ornamental shrub beds and display bedding, for which the park has become well know. The bedding displays are planted twice yearly to provide a spectacular and colourful display throughout the Spring and Summer months.

The Groves and River Dee

The Groves and River Dee, Chester The Groves is the area along the River Dee directly south of the Walls. A street of the same name runs the length of the area, from the south end of Grosvenor Park by the Queen's Park suspension bridge to the Dee Bridge. There is also a restaurant-bar at the park end, also called the Groves. It is a designated conservation area. The area is largely a Victorian riverside recreation area. It has an old-fashioned 19th century bandstand, benches and boat cruises. There are several pubs, cafes and restaurants along the waterfront. Concerts and regattas are held in the summer months and local artists display their work along the base of the wall. The Groves has become Chester's riverside promenade and a magnet for residents and visitors alike.

The Rows

The Rows A great place for shopping, Chester's 'Rows' are a series of medieval walkways with shops on two levels in the centre of the town around the four original thoroughfares of Eastgate Street, Watergate Street, Bridge Street and Northgate Street. These streets are all pedestrianised with street-traders and buskers being regular features. The Rows are a unique system of covered walkways with shops and commercial properties on two levels. They are open to the street on one side and the levels can be reached from stairs at ground level.

Records show that the Rows have existed at least since the late 13th century. How they came to be built is not known for sure, but a devastating fire in 1278 and subsequent attempts at town planning could account for their origins. However, archaeological excavations have so far found no evidence for this fire and there is no real evidence that re-building was deliberately 'planned' to include a Row system. The first documentary references to Rows, relate to the area around St. Peter's Church in the commercial heart of the city. By the 1290s, the area on the east side of Northgate Street was known as Ironmonger's Row and houses with undercrofts are recorded. These early Row buildings probably had an elevated gallery, but were not yet part of a continuous system. Access to Row level would have been by many different flights of steps. However, during the 14th century galleries were gradually linked to form continuous walkways, possibly through the co-operation of adjacent property owners who needed to make their premises more accessible.

The Roodee

The Roodee, Chester

In Roman times Chester was known as Castra Deva, meaning "the military camp on the River Dee" and was home to the 20th Legion (Valeria Victrix) for about 200 years. Chester's geographical position made it one of the finest strategic outposts of the Roman Empire. The River Dee, before it silted up and became un-navigable, was an important trade route. The Roodee (Chester's racecourse) was once the Roman harbour and the dispatch point for raw minerals, such as lead and copper from mines in nearby North Wales, to the rest of the Roman Empire. The original Roman quay can still be seen at the foot of the medieval walls if viewed from the racecourse. The Roodee is probably the oldest racecourse in Britain. Its name comes from the old English words rood, or 'cross', and eye 'island', and means 'island of the cross'. The stump of a medieval cross still stands in the middle of the course.

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