Wednesday, 2 August 2017

6. Getting To Know Your Area - Chester

Getting to know the area you will be living in whilst studying can be pretty intimidating, albeit it being a little easier nowadays thanks to public transport and the ever faithful Google maps. All the same, it is useful to know the area relatively well before fresher's week so that you don't get too lost too easily. In relation to this, I have decided to write a series of posts exploring interesting areas near popular UK universities which might add a fun element of tourism to your research over the summer. Train and coach tickets aren't too expensive, so if you're up for either an open day or an adventure, through these posts you can find a few places to fit into your day trip on the first time you visit an a new location. Think of it as research with the added benefit of being a road trip.

Chester, like York, is a city grounded in history. But instead of vikings, there is an abundance of Roman history available practically by the bookful. It's fascinating to wander through the fusion of old and new architecture alike, and no matter the weather there is always something to do. On a sunny day you can head to the park or one of the many green spaces in the area but on a rainy day you can pretend to be a tourist and head to the many shops available. 

To help you get used to your area and to finding your own way around, here are a few of the places you can head to in Chester to get a head start:

Go outside - explore!
1. Chester Cathedral

Built in the signature red stone of the city, the cathedral is quite the impressive architectural feat to be-hold. This site has been used as a cathedral for over 2000 years and was given to Chester as a gift by Henry VIII. It really feels like going back in time with how well preserved it is.

The gardens are particularly beautiful in the summer time and at the moment there isvalso a sculpture garden open to the public which features pieces from around the UK and the globe alike. There was a particularly interesting one outside of the cathedral which was made up of metal variations on to different shapes - One looked like a raspberry whilst another looked like a giant intestine!

2. Shopping

Chester is known to tourists as the perfect shopping location. There are all sorts of stores, from the usual every day chains to individual shops and designer branches that aren't as broadly accessible around the rest of the country.

And it's not just every day shopping either. This is the best example of where Chester bridges the new with the old because the modern gadgets and stores are set inside the old architecture of the city. The typical Tudor architecture makes for a beautiful scenario in which to explore.

Tip - Look out for the clock tower which is one of the most well known icons of this area!

3. The Roman Ampitheatre + Castle

As previously stated, where York is known for its affiliation with the Vikings this is a location which is all about its connection with the Romans. Everything from the castle to the walls was initially set into motion by them and their mark is still very much alive and visible to a passing eye.

One such example would have to be the Ampitheatre which was discovered in the 20th century by some builders when they were working on rennovating a girls school. The land level has risen much since then, so the current version you can visit is actually a replica built on top of the original.

As for the castle, it has recently been re-opened to the public. For now entrance is free and the castle is in the form it has maintained since its' original inhabitation. But there are plans in the future to turn it into a museum which would be open to the public for a small fee. So now is definitely the time to head out to explore if you are aiming to explore Chester on as small a budget as possible!

4. Wander The Walls + The River

If you've been shopping for the day and want see a bit more of the city without investing too much time in a museum or going to a restaurant, it's always a good plan to head for the walls. They go all around the city (originally they would have acted as a fort) and are again built in the cities signature red stone. They take a few hours to wander around in full but it is definitely worth it for the views you will get, even in the rain.

If it is a pleasant day, you might even want to pause for a while by the river. During a week day it can be quite still and quiet - the perfect place to read for a while or to just soak in your surroundings. There are boats open which can be rented by the public and plenty of wild life to see.

On my last visit I did both of these things (there was an odd mix of rain and sunshine that day). My friend Emma proved an excellent tour guide so I didn't miss anything in this fascinating place. I did however get chased by a squirrel... so be on the lookout for rogue acorn eaters!

5. The Ruins Of St. John's Church

My favourite place in Chester would have to be the ruins of St. John's church. This is even older than the cathedral itself, dating all the way back to the medieval period. The entrance archway is actually the remnants of where a stained glass window would once have been.

This will awaken the archaeologist in you, for there are so many little details to be on the lookout for. One in particular would have to be a tomb bearing a Latin inscription which means dust to dust. It's been fixed to part of the stone so that it is more visible to guests. Let me know if you spot it!

Thank-you for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day! 

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!

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