“Climb to the top for lovely views!” That was what I was told prior to my visit to York Minster. I was ready for it. The Central Tower of York Minster is the highest point in the city, and offers magnificent panoramic views of York. The climb is 275 steps up inside a medieval winding stone staircase, following one person after another, or passing them by if they pause for a rest.
Once I got to the top and caught my breath, I took in the view. It was a breathtaking glimpse of the old city of York, between the two Gothic towers of this 600 year old cathedral. The views were glorious, and a reward for the spiral climb. Now York Minster is not all about this rewarding climb, the inside and the outer architecture are even better than the central tower views.
York Minster is the largest cathedral of it kind in Northern Europe, and is several centuries old. It was originally founded in 1230, and concentrated in 1472 being built in an Early English Perpendicular – Gothic style. There are three imposing towers, the two Western and the Central. The Central Tower, which is 235 feet high is the one that I had climbed and offered those glorious views.
The inside of York Minster is remarkable with traditional Gothic cathedral features of vaulted ceilings, an impressive nave, marvelous stained glass windows, and a church filled with British history. The nave itself is intriguing, as it is the widest Gothic naive in England. It was built between 1292 and 1350, embellished in Gothic style, and has a wooden roof. Interestingly enough the nave’s wooden roof was painted to appear as stone.
York Minster is also home to several striking stained glass windows that were created in the Perpendicular Style. This English Gothic style was developed during the Late Middle Ages, as was typified by the large stained glass windows with straight horizonal, and vertical lines with arched tops.
The “Apocalypse” is one of York Minster’s Perpendicular style stained glass window masterpieces. It was created between 1405 to 1408, and is sets as the Great East Window.
St. Mary’s Abbey Ruins
Not far from York Minster are the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey that date back prior to the cathedral, as it was first constructed in 1088. The abbey was one of the most powerful and wealthiest Benedictine monasteries in England, but was ended during Henry VIII Reformation of the church.
Prior to King Henry VIII’s banning all monasteries in England during the 1530s, the monks spent their days copying books, helping the poor, trading with merchants, and managing the abbey’s estates.
By 1540, the monks of St. Mary’s were pensioned off, and the abbey was converted into a palace where the King would visit while in York. Eventually the abbey turned palace fell into ruins, and used as agricultural buildings before the Yorkshire Philosophical Society started excavations in 1820.
I have visited the city of York a number of time, and it truly is a lively and fascinating place with layers of history. York Minster and St. Mary’s Abbey are just two of its structures still standing that represent a bit of York’s history. If you are looking to tour the cathedral, please visit their website – York Minster.
To travel is to live…
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