Chester, England an old city. It was founded in 79 A.D. as a fortress for northern expansion of the Roman empire. The city itself is still surrounded by ancient walls and has one of the most complete wall systems in England. During the early industrial revolution, it became a hub for industry but is now a modern suburb of the larger city of Manchester. There’s much industry here left.
But Chester is the embodiment of a “typical English town” with its Victorian buildings, cottage homes, cobblestoned high street, expansive parks, and ancient walls.
It’s a quiet town. I’m amazed by the quietness that always seemed to envelop me. It’s often as if there were no inhabitants of the city. You rarely hear the sounds of cars, people, or even birds.
The Chester center looks like something out of an old novel by Charles Dickens. The old taverns, hotels, and little shops all have retained their charm and original paint. The homes in Chester are typical Victorian. I keep waiting for Mrs. Havisham to come out in a wedding dress sometime. Small cottages with bricks and criss-cross wood fronts and glass window.
While most of Chester’s allure and charm comes from its Dickens feel, there are a few things to see and do in Chester:
Walk Along the City Walls
The city is home to the most complete city walls in the country, dating from the Roman times over 2,000 years ago. Today, you can take the 2 mile walls and admire the beautiful heritage of Chester. They were built to protect the city from tribal invaders and built between 70 and 80 AD. Allow about forty-five minutes to walk the entire thing. The most famous part of the wall is the East gate.
Go to The Grosvenor Museum
(27 Grosvenor Street, 01244 972197, grosvenormuseum.co.uk)
This museum showcases Roman history, artifacts, silverware, and captivating artwork. It is the best way to learn about the long history of the city. Best of all: admission is free! You only need a few hours here too!
Visit the 700 Year Old Rows
(Bridge St, Watergate St, Eastgate Street, 01244 402110)
This row of houses showcases the historic architecture of the city. Shoemakers and Iron Mongers once sold their wares in these magnificent 700 year old medieval houses. The double-decker houses are unique to the city and now host retailers and galleries. They are phenomenal and picturesque.
Visit the Cathedral
(12 Abbey Square, 01244 324756, chestercathedral.com)
Chester Cathedral is a 1000 years old and one of the best examples of medieval architecture left in the country. You can also do a tower tours and learn about the city of the tour and the city. Entry is free to the Cathedral. It’s open all year, Monday – Saturday from 9:00am to 6:00pm and Sunday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
Visit the Chester Racecourse
(The Racecourse, 01244 304 648. chester-races.co.uk)
The oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain is now a racecourse. The horses racing in the city is one of the most popular activities in the region and when the races are on, everyone comes out to celebrate them in their finest attire to get drunk while being stylish. It’s more a social event than anything else!
Take a Cruise on the River Dee
(The Groves, 01244 325 394, Chester Boat)
You can do half-day, full day, or evening tea cruises through the Duke of Westminster’s Estate. And, as the city is popular with stag and hen parties, even party cruise! Prices start from £7 and go up for longer cruises.
Chester is the type of city you see in brochures advertising England- country homes, old Victorian buildings, and lots of “quaint” shops. The city is definitely worth an overnight stay or at least a day trip from Manchester or Liverpool.
Book Your Trip to Chester: Logistical Tips and Tricks
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Note: This article was originally published in 2008.