I think that York must be the north of England's most compelling city. It is compact, but despite this, there are so many things to see and do. 4 million visitors come here every year - so others must agree with my view on this!
York stood at the heart of England's religious and political life for centuries. Until the Industrial Revolution, it was second only to London in population and importance. York has Roman, Viking, Georgian and Victorian history and heritage. Few cities in England have such a rich history as there is here. York was the capital of the Roman Empire's Northern European territories and the base for Hadrian's northern campaigns.
The city of York is still encircled by its wonderful 13th and 14th century walls. These are 2.5 miles long and have 4 gates. You can still walk the whole length of the walls. One of the gates - Mickelgate, once greeted visitors coming from the south with the heads of traitors on the gate.
York also has an extraordinary spider's web of narrow medieval streets. The Shambles is possibly the most famous. Here the houses are timber framed and lean towards each other. The street is so narrow, that in parts you can stand on one side and almost touch the other.
At the heart of the city of York is its crowning glory - the cathedral or Minster. This really is an awe inspiring place and is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. It is an important cathedral too - it makes the city of York an ecclesiastical centre, second only in importance to the Anglican Church to Canterbury.
York Minster is also the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps. The stained glass windows are especially amazing. If you are fit enough, definitely climb up the steep metal and stone steps to the top of one of the towers - you will be rewarded with a breath-taking view of the city.
In my opinion, culturally and historically and for beauty and just sheer fun, there is nowhere quite like York.