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A huge structure dominating the city centre and one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the the world

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Choir Stalls
Great East Window
Roof Bosses
Rose Window
Lantern Tower
Astronomical Clock
Chapter House
The Crypt
There are many reasons to visit this city, but surely one of the biggest is to visit its cathedral - York Minster. The huge structure dominates the city centre, and is visible from almost anywhere. It's one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the country, and the world.

Glistening in the evening sunshine
But of course, it didn't begin that way. The cathedral's story begins in 627 AD, when Edwin - the King of Northumbria - was converted to Christianity by his wife-to-be. Wasting no time at all, she decided he should get baptised right away, but unfortunately, the area had a severe lack of appropriate Christian buildings. Undeterred, she joined forces with the local bishop, and together they speedily built a crude wooden church. As simple as it was, this DIY cathedral is regarded as the first York Minster.

Gothic Architecture
Since then, the structure has been constantly taken down and built back up again, starting just a few years later when the wooden beams were replaced with proper stone. In the following few centuries, it was almost constantly changing. At the time, York was an unstable city, taken over in turn by Danes, Saxons, Norse, and English - and every group wanted to make the Minster their own.

Figures on the external walls
By the 1200s, people still weren't happy. This was a time when the new gothic style was at the height of its popularity, and so the archbishop, Walter de Gray, ordered a large scale construction project. This command came in 1220, but unfortunately, work was slow, and de Grey didn't live to see its completion. In fact, the construction work took a lot longer than anyone thought. The eventual consecration of the finished York Minster came in 1472, a full two-and-a-half centuries later.

Inside York Minster
Photo thejonoakley

Photo cybaea2
Inevitably, the cathedral has endured more damage since, and has been subject to innumerable restoration projects. However, the major changes seen in the first stages of its history came to a close, and the building in York today can be directly traced back to this 15th-century work.

Rose Window

York Minster has some of the best stained glass in the world
Today, York Minster stands at 60 metres tall, and 158 metres long. It is built in a traditional crucifix shape, with three towers, and 128 stained glass windows. In fact, the Minster is well-known for the quality of its glasswork. It is valued so highly that during both World Wars, it was taken down for safekeeping - which is a bigger job than it sounds; there are around 2 million individual pieces! Of course, they have since been restored, and visitors can see unique displays like the 50-feet-tall Five Sisters, or the Rose window, which is over 500 years old. Even more impressively, the Great East Window is the largest example of medieval stained glass on the globe.

The doorway leading to the Chapter House
Photo Denis Chen

The Chapter House Roof
There are dozens more interesting sights inside the cathedral, including a 3-ton bell, and an astronomical clock. There is also the fascinating Crypt with it's Roman and other archaeological finds. These were discovered during a maintenance dig during the 1960s carried out to save the Central Tower from falling down!

The Astronomical Clock
The Lantern Tower was designed to take the weight of a massive spire on top of it. However, after construction, the tower began to crack and plans for the spire were abandoned.

Looking up into the Lantern Tower
So if you get the chance, spend some time in York Minster - or, to give it its lengthy full name: the Cathedral and Metropolitan Church of St Peter.
Visitor Information
York Minster is open for sigtseeing Mon to Sat 9am - 6.30pm, Sun 12noon - 3.45pm. Entry costs around £9 for adults, children FREE. Tel: 01904 557216

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