by Ben Johnson
Stroll through the ancient streets, walk the ancient walls (Chester has the most complete city walls in Britain) and meander along the banks of the River Dee. Shop till you drop in the most compact shopping centre in Britain thanks to the world famous Rows, two-tier medieval galleries of shops.
Chester was originally settled by the Romans in the first century AD and called Fortress Diva, after the River Dee upon which it stands. With its imposing city walls – you can still see some of the original Roman structure – and its massive harbour, Deva rapidly became one of the most important Roman settlements in Britain.
During the Dark Ages, Chester came under attack from Viking raiders who sailed up the river in their longships. After the conquest of Britain by the Normans in 1066, William I created the first Earl of Chester who began the construction of Chester Castle.
By the Middle Ages, Chester had become a wealthy trading port: it was at this time that the Rows were built. However disaster befell the city during the English Civil War as Chester was besieged for two years before starvation forced its people to surrender.
As the centuries passed, the harbour gradually silted up and by Georgian times the port was virtually gone. Today some of the original quay can still be seen near the Roodee Racecourse.
Chester was now the county town of Cheshire and elegant new houses and terraces were built to house the wealthy merchants of the city.
Chester is famous for its black and white buildings including the Rows, medieval two-tier buildings above street level with covered walkways which today house many of Chester’s shopping galleries. The city centre Cross is where you will find the Town Crier at 12 noon Tuesday-Saturday, Easter to September.
The famous city Walls, originally built by the Romans and today a walk of around two miles, offer a superb elevated view of the city on one side and a view of the distant Welsh mountains on the other.
Selected Attractions in and around Chester
Chester Visitor Centre – Guided walking tours. Vicars Lane, Chester Tel: 01244 351 609
Chester Cathedral – originally a Saxon Minster, then rebuilt as a Benedictine Abbey, the present building was begun in 1092 but not finished until 1535. St Werburgh Street, Chester
Roman Amphitheatre – the largest of its kind in Britain can be found on our interactive map of Roman Sites in Britain
Details of Chester museums can be found in our brand new interactive map of Museums in Britain
Chester is easily accessible by both road and rail, please try our UK Travel Guide for further details