If you find yourself out exploring in Cheshire, there’s one place that you must put on the ‘to see list’ and that’s Chester.
Chester was founded as a fort by the Romans all the way back in the AD70s, when it was called ‘Deva Victrix’ – a name that is believed to have translated as ‘Goddess’ or ‘Divine’.
Even if you only have a few hours to look around like I did, here is what you can expect to see.
The Medieval Walls
Chester is brimming in rich history and is famed for its medieval city walls which are the oldest and longest in Great Britain (yes, York – they beat yours).
A part of the walls still remain in their original state, dating back around 2000 years. Visitors to Chester can spend many a happy hour exploring the entire circuit themselves – or choose to take a guided tour and learn more about the history within the walls.
After the Romans left in the late 4th Century, Chester welcomed the Vikings, the Saxons, the Danes, the Scots and the Normans to its walled city. It is said that the army of William the Conqueror arrived in Chester around 1070 and built a castle upon instruction of the King, overlooking the River Dee and sitting just outside of the Roman fort. Chester sustained its military stronghold into the 17th Century.
The River Dee
Like the famous walls, the River Dee – which stretches 70 miles into North Wales – also has its place in the history books as a commercial gateway for the maritime trade, eventually becoming one of the most important ports in Britain.
Today, the River Dee is a great spot for which to enjoy a leisurely stroll along ‘The Groves’ promenade, grabbing something to eat/ drink or taking to the water on a pedalo, rowing boat or an organised boat tour. In fact, I remember taking a boat trip on the ‘Lady Diana’ some 30 or so years ago with my Grandma – and it’s still there to this day!
Tip: Get there early and there are a small number of parking bays that give you an hour at the river, gratis.
City Centre Shopping
Anyone who loves a bit of retail therapy will relish a day out splashing the cash in Chester. From your everyday high street brands to your high end, it’s fair to say Chester has the lot.
The gorgeous, distinctive Tudor buildings all around the high street make for some added luxury to the shopping experience too!
If you’re after something a more unique, take a wander through The Rows – a two level arcade comprising half timber buildings and nooks and crannies, where you are bound to find something to take your fancy, from independent art to a distinctly different piece of furniture.
Of course, no shopping trip is complete without a stop-off for a cup of tea and a slice of cake – and you’ll not struggle to find somewhere deservedly decadent in this city.
I’ve already mentioned the Tudor buildings for which Chester is so renowned, but a walk around the city will showcase its other beauties.
Chester Cathedral is in the heart of the city and is open to visitors looking for a bit of medieval history or a spot of falconry! The gardens, too, are open to explore – lovely in the Spring time.
Chester Town Hall was built in the mid nineteenth century and is a designated Grade II listed building, said to be a symbol of the civil government in the city. Today, it is often hired out for special events.
One of the largest zoos in the UK is right here in Chester too – boasting over 50 hectares of land occupying 35,000 animals.
Chester Zoo is hugely popular and renowned throughout not just Britain, but the world. Little known fact: In 2017, Tripadvisor rated Chester Zoo as best in the UK and third best in the world.
I know that zoos divide opinion so a trip here might not be for everyone. That said, Chester Zoos mantra is to ‘create a better world for wildlife‘ – preventing extinction through conservation.
Although that was a whistle stop tour of Chester, I hope you found it useful in planning your own trip.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for England’s glorious North West region, why not take a look at more on my blog?