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History and Heritage
of Chester

Learn about the history and heritage of Chester

Based in the county of Cheshire, the cathedral city of Chester attracts millions of visitors each year, with many drawn by its unique past. The history and heritage of Chester dates right back to 79AD, when it was founded as Roman fort, during which time its world-famous walls were built. Over the years the city has grown and prospered, including medieval times when Chester Castle was constructed, and during the industrial revolution when it played a significant role.

Proud of its legacy, the city of Chester has numerous attractions and operators dedicated to preserving its exciting history. From venerable museums and ancient sites of historic significance to period architecture and walking tours, there are an abundance of opportunities for those seeking to learn more about the Chester in bygone times.

Having a wide range of options can sometimes make it tricky to choose where to go and what to do. That’s why at Chester.com, we’ve simplified the searching process for city residents and visitors alike. Through our website, you can quickly find all the activities and entertainment on offer and find detailed information to determine if available services on-site suit your group.

Chester was settled by Romans soldiers who named it Fortress Diva, after the local River Dee and its imposing city walls still show signs of the original Roman structure. Its defences and huge harbour made Chester among the most significant Roman settlements in the whole of Britain.

Chester fell under Viking attack during the Dark Ages. Raiders ailed up the dee longships. By 1066, Britain was conquered by the Normans and William I became the first Earl of Chester. In the Middle Ages, the city rose to become a successful trading port. It was around this time that the Chester Rows were constructed. The English Civil War saw disaster befall the city however when Chester suffered a two-year siege that resulted in in its surrender.

Over the following centuries, the harbour silted up so by the Georgian era the port was almost entirely gone. However, some of its original quay is still visible today near the city’s renowned racecourse.

At this time, Chester was declared one of Cheshire’s County towns. To house the influx of wealthy merchants in the city, elegant new terraces featuring well-appointed houses were built. In Victorian times the city’s gothic-style Town Hall was constructed and to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the Eastgate Clock was instated. Today it is said to be the second most photographed clock in the UK, after Big Ben in London.

Chester is well-known for its building with black and white facades. This includes the Rows, which are medieval two-tier buildings affixed above street level boasting covered walkways for shoppers. Today the Rows house many of the city’s retail galleries.

History and Heritage Adventures in ChesterDue to its long history, Chester is a mecca for those with a passion for architecture. Here you can find ancient Roman relics, like the amphitheatre and city walls, but also 13th century designs like the city’s unique Chester Rows, Chester Cathedral and the Grade-listed public house, the Falcon. However, there are a multitude of ways to experience the History and Heritage of Chester first hand.

A unique midday proclamation by a full liveried town crier takes place regularly at Chester’s historic centre, where Eastgate Street and Watergate Street meet Bridge Street, marked by the stone pillar known as “The High Cross”. There are also city tours around the walls led by expert guides dressed authentically as Roman centurions. They offer those interested in history a fresh perspective of what it was like to live in Chester under Roman rule.

water tower city wallsChester’s rich heritage has continued into its present in many cases. The city has the oldest racecourse still in operation in the world known as the Roodee, Chester Racecourse. Races were run at Chester as far back as 1512, although racing really got underway at the site by 1539. It is also home to one of the UK’s largest zoological gardens and the country’s most-visited wildlife attraction, Chester Zoo. Operating since 1931 when it first opened to the public, today it is a dedicated conservationist working to raise public awareness and prevent the extinction of endangered species around the world.

The celebrated city Walls, which were originally erected by the Romans and expanded upon to improve Chester’s defences, offer visitors a walk covering around two miles. On one side, the round trip offers walkers an outstanding elevated view of Chester and on the other, an enchanting view of the Welsh mountains in the distance.

Whether you’d like to experience a realistic re-enactment from the Roman era or visit sites around the city where amazing historic events took place, we can help. Plan out your trip of discovery today by exploring Chester.com first to find out more about the city’s astonishing history and heritage.

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