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The size of York Minister and its architecture are striking. It's over 500 feet wide and has a central tower almost 200 feet high. While you are looking around the Minster bear in mind it took over 250 years to complete and the only tools they had then were simple levers, pulleys and hoists. Many Masons and Carpenters spent their entire working lives helping to erect York Minster. Over the years it has had major repair and restoration works done and on our visit continuing maintenance work was underway.
The construction used huge quantities of magnesium limestone. It weathers and cleans itself turning from white when first quarried to the lovely pale golden honey colour which is the colour we see today. York Minster is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe along with Cologne Cathedral. The title "Minster" refers to churches built in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches.
The first church on the site was a wooden one built in 627 to christen the Anglo-Saxon King, Edwin of Northumbria. Later a bigger stone one replaced the earlier one. Work on the present Gothic building began in 1230 and was completed in 1472. Gothic style uses pointed arches to enable window sizes to increase and allow more light into the building.
York Minster was a Catholic church before 1534. Now it is Church of England. It is the seat of the Archbishop of York as well as a popular tourist site. As a tourist you can enter the Minster, Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt and Tower - while services are taking place restrictions will apply.
The Nave is the widest Gothic one in the country. Above the great West Window, installed in 1338, look for the heart-shaped carving nicknamed the heart of Yorkshire. The Chapter house, an octagonal building, because of it shape has good acoustics.
The North and South transepts were the first parts of the new church built. The Minster has a Gothic choir and east end, and Early English north and south transepts. Over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window. Finished in 1408, it the largest expanse of medieval stained-glass in the world. It depicts the beginning and the end of the world based on the Bible stories and is almost the size of a tennis court. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 16 metres (52 ft) high. The stained-glass Rose Window is something that no visitor can fail to miss. It’s at the front entrance and possibly the most beautiful window in the minster. It tells the story of the houses of York and Lancaster which historically fought each other and finally united.
The Screen is the most impressive screen I've ever seen. Instead of religious figures the screen displays statues of 15 English kings, from William I to Henry VI.
Walking down the stairs of the minster to the Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt you will find skeletons of buildings that were previously on the site of the Minster. Some date from the original Roman fortress on the site others from Viking and medieval times. You can also have a look at the Minister’s collection of treasures.
I’m impressed with the beauty of the Minster, in particular the windows I mentioned earlier, the Screen and the Nave. In my inexperienced opinion York Minster and Westminster Abbey are of equal magnificence. If visiting the Minster you should be aware the Minster is still a place of worship and while these are in progress access controls apply to certain areas. Anybody is welcome to join in any of the daily services though.
If you are energetic climb the Tower - the largest in England. Its 275 steps are steep and the stairway is very narrow but from the top the views are worth the climb for you can see for miles not to mention the medieval streets and horse carriages down below that take you back in time.
- Historical Travel
York Minster inside
The Minster has a very wide Decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a Perpendicular Gothic choir and east end and Early English north and south transepts. The choir has an interior height of 31 m.
The nave contains the West Window, constructed in 1338, and over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window, (finished in 1408), the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 16 metres high. The south transept contains a famous rose window, while the West Window contains a famous heart-shaped design, colloquially known as 'The Heart of Yorkshire'.
You can watch my 3 min 13 sec Video York Minster part 2 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Open daily from 7:00am until 6:30pm
Monday - Saturday: open 9:00am; last entry at 5pm
Sunday: 12.00pm - 5.00pm
No sightseeing on Good Friday and Easter Sunday or on Sundays before 12.00pm.
In the winter, Tower Trips may be affected by the weather and will only be available on the day.
Please note there are occasions when York Minster is open for services only.
There are a range of ticket options to suit every visitor, from families to individuals and those wanting to visit more of York’s brilliant attractions. For those traveling in a group of 10 or more people, find out about Group Visits.
Plus, your admission ticket to York Minster is valid for 12 months!
Combined Ticket (Minster and Tower)
Seniors and Students £14
Child £5 (ages 8-16)
Family Pass (1 adult + up to 4 children) £10
Family Pass (2 adults + up to 4 children) £20
Seniors or Students £9
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York Minster outside
York Minster is a famous cathedral as one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.
The present building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472.
It has a cruciform plan with an octagonal chapter house attached to the north transept, a central tower and two towers at the west front. The stone used for the building is magnesian limestone, a creamy-white colored rock that was quarried in nearby Tadcaster. The Minster is 158 m long and each of its three towers are 61 m high.
You can watch my 5 min 18 sec Video York Minster part 1 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
- Historical Travel
Renovations at the Minster
A huge cathedral such as the Minster needs to be constantly renovated and fixed, and there are several places where you can see this process going on.
Walking to the rear of the Minster, you pass a small hut surrounded by fencing. There are many stones kept here and if you are lucky, you can even see masons at work! There are many elaborate carvings that are finished and are waiting to be installed somewhere on the Minster, and it is fascinating to see them up close.
When I visited, the north-eastern façade was totally scaffolded. At the moment (2012), the window on this side has been taken out and is currently repaired and worked on. There is a huge cloth installed at the wall which shows an original-sized photograph of the window so that visitors can imagine what it will look like when it is there again.
Dean's Park was one of my favourite places in York. It is the wonderful green park that is surrounding the Minster, and a great place to relax and sit down while enjoying spectacular views of the Minster. You can see the Minster from very different angles and it is a great photo opportunity as well.
There are benches along the walk ways and it seems that this is a popular spot not only for tourists, but also for the locals. In the evening, it becomes quieter and is very peaceful. On my very first evening in York, I came here after my long train ride from Germany and my grocery shopping on Bootham Road, it was the first place I visited in the city and I sat down and immediately enjoyed the atmosphere and the spiritual presence of the grand building surrounded by the park.
This once was the Minster Close and only the people associated with the Minster were allowed to come here. It is still surrounded by buildings belonging to the Minster, such as the Dean's House, the Treasurer's House and St William's College. It still feels like another world within the city, and it is easy to imagine how secluded this world once was.
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Minster - climb the Central Tower
Visitors can climb the Central Tower, which is the square one you can only see from some special angles, such as from Dean's Park. You need to climb 275 steps in order to get to the top, where you can enjoy a wonderful 360° view of York and its surroundings. It really is a fine view, and what I enjoyed even more were the glimpses on the Minster's architecture. I find it very fascinating to see the outside of stained-glass windows, struts supporting the walls, pinnacles and other decorations. You can also see the two southwest towers from a unique perspective. It is amazing that they look so massive and huge from the ground when you are standing in front of the Minster, but much smaller when you look on them from the neighboring Central Tower.
The climb upon the tower is not included in your general entrance fee to the Minster, you need to obtain a special ticket.
Opening times differ a lot from season to season, so please refer to the website to get current information!
Admission fee: Adults £6.00, concession £5.00, children £3.50
Minster - the Chapter House
When I entered the Chapter House, it took my breath away. This place was so beautiful and stunning that I could not believe it! And it seemed that everybody felt the same, because the handful of people present all wandered around in awe, nobody was talking, everyone was just admiring the architecture and glancing at the ceiling and the high windows.
The construction of the Chapter House was completed in 1290 and some of the windows still retain the original glass from that time. It has an octagonal shape and along the walls there are forty-four seats for the canons of the Minster. The Chapter House was built as a meeting place for them and is still used as such. It is an unusual feature that there is no central column in the middle of the room, the roof supports itself by timber structures. The wonderful painting on the ceiling was added in 1798. I could not stop looking at it because I thought it so beautiful.
When I visited the Chapter House for the second time, there was a young couple who suddenly started singing together, a classical piece of music with two parts. They did not sing that loud, but everyone stopped and listened to them. It was just magical.
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York Minster - always changing!
What strikes you first is the quietness, the silence... not from the gardener on the right, cutting the small lawn on a ride-on mower; not from the groups of school children gathering at the front, guided by weary-looking teachers trying to keep them separate from the tourists; not from the builders throwing rubble into a skip outside the building to the rear; not even from the occasionally passing car or the novelty road-train that ferries its passengers to and from the nearby National Railway Museum... The feeling of quietness comes from the Minster itself, its towers looming high above the city centre rooftops, its sandstone walls dwarfing everything and everyone nearby and throwing a blanket sensation of stillness over the entire area. Sitting on the kerb just opposite the ancient wooden entrance doors, my eyes scan the front of the magnificent Gothic cathedral trying to absorb every detail of its architecture – my senses, overwhelmed, block out the ambient sounds in an effort to dedicate every ounce of their energy to this daunting task. The gargoyles, flying buttresses, statuettes of religious figures and stained glass windows clamour for my attention as my eyes descend from the tops of the towers to the bottom of the steps leading up to the doors. I am in awe and I can only sit in wondering silence...
One feature of the Minster’s exterior that cannot be ignored, however, is the ever-present scaffolding – like many buildings in the past fifty years, this proud cathedral is a victim of pollution. Years of fumes from vehicle exhausts, coupled with acid rain and the effluent of generations of pigeons, have taken their toll on the sandstone. Although the expansion of York’s pedestrianised zone has greatly reduced the rate at which many of its features are degenerating, the Minster remains in need of continuous repair. To enable this, it has its own stoneyard and is one of the few places in the UK to offer apprenticeships in masonry work - an outdoor display area has even been created so that members of the public can watch the sculptors at work. On the bright side, it could be said that the scaffolding does provide tourists with a reason to visit York year after year. As the repairs, and the scaffolding, move gradually around the building, new photo opportunities arise as different aspects of the Minster become scaffolding-free..!
- Historical Travel
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York Minster is known as the Heart of Yorkshire and is a architectural masterpiece built between the 1220s and the 1470s.
There are tours to be made around the Minster and a book and gift shop.
The website has details.
York Minster is a Gothic cathedral in York, England and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe alongside Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by a dean and chapter under the Dean of York. The formal title of York Minster is The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York.
I only saw the entry of the inside since I don't like to pay admission for visiting public buildings like churches or any other religious site.
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One of the greatest Cathedral's of the World!
Even if it is closed, it still is worth walking around the complete outside. There are many sculpture's and being Gothic, I thought it gorgeous!
There is plenty written on VT about the Minster, if you want to know more, the listed website is very good.
Monday - Saturday: open 9am (9.30am November- March) last entry at 5pm
Sunday: 12.00 noon - 3.45pm
No sightseeing on Good Friday and Easter Sunday
or on Sundays before 12.00 noon
Entry into the Minster (optional free guided tour) including entry to the Chapter House, Treasury & Crypts:
Senior (60+)/student: £8.00
Children with family (16 and under): Free
Entry to the Tower:
Senior (60+)/student: £5.00
Child (age 8 to 16): £3.50
Children under the age of 8 may not climb the Tower
Combined Ticket (York Minster & Tower):
Senior (60+)/student: £12.00
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10 centuries and still ruling
York Minster is to York what York is to its Minster. Since XIth century when the actual building began to be erected this majestic, smart and huge church has been a witness and an actor of a leading part in England's History. The exterior view may not be so spectacular as that one from other great cathedrals, partly due to its placing in a plain terrain surrounded by York's buildings, partly to its not very slender towers compared, i.e. to Lincoln's or Durham's. But wait to enter...
The highly interesting beginnings are closely linked to the rich History of the country. In fact, the very origin comes to Roman times. Under the actual Minster and surroundings there was a leading Roman headquarter and basilica and was here at IVth century where Constantine the Great was proclaimed Augustus -Emperor later- and he's who made possible the adoption of Christianity as the Empire's leading religion. Later, when Anglo-Saxon times, a first church was made -it's not clear where exactly-, being a wooden one the first of all and a stoned one later enclosing the original. With time these were destroyed but at XIth century, when Norman victory over Saxons, everything turned again. Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux promoted the building here of a great Minster and that's the origin of the building you can see now.
Beginning in a Romanesque-Norman style, it evolved into a mainly Early English style and Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic afterwards. In a whole, its shape is basically Gothic especially when you enter inside. Coming from the transept to the nave it soon discovers you one of the finest Gothic structures and ornaments able to be seen in this country. This church is said to be the biggest in Britain. It may be so but not in height but in width. The nave lenght is obviosly enormous and taking the complete tour takes big time if you want to discover its marvels -as it may be-.
To understand York Minster, the same as York itself, means coming down to the undercroft, treasury and crypt. Here you'll find a surprise, a unique exhibition among Minster's foundations that will show you better that anything the real antiquity and history surrounding this place, something unique.
And after a more comprehensive viewpoint, the best is proceeding to the real tour, walking through these marvellous pillars, carved ornaments, medieval stained windows etc. with a guide in hands. Take your time and don't hurry for it's worthy. Some hits you'll find in here are:
- The Great East Window, which is said to be the biggest medieval stained glass window in the world, dating from XVth century, and the other great windos. i.e the Great West Window from XIVth century or the Five Sisters or St. William's windows at the north side.
- Central tower and transept. You may climb up the tower but it's a charge apart and not for faint-hearted!
- The superb quire screen, with 15 stone kings carved on a symphony of white and gold, showing some leading kings since the first saxon church to its completion.
- The Quire itself, a supernatural environment of carved wood leaded by the giantic organ. A beauty oasis in spite of being a reconstruction of the original medieval one which was devastated in a XIXth century fire. Nonetheless the wood work is superb and you'd never say it's rebuilt.
- North aisle and the big Astronomical Clock, a curiosity acting as a memorial for crewmen who flew during WWII.
- The superb Chapter House a polygonal XIIIth century with nice wooden ribs acting as a pioneering architectural item to avoy a central column for sustaining the roof, 44 seats around and the walls quite completely medieval stained glass ones. Astoundingly beautiful!
There are whole walls covered with ancient stoned or polychromed wooden toms and memorials. Make your way and discover one by one every unique feature in this especial space, one of the more interesting, beautiful and historically rich buildings in England. York Minster rules!
Essential viewing for a trip to York
This is certainly one of the big name attractions in York and it does deserve to be. It is a beautiful and fascinating building and the history of this building reflects the history of the city as a whole to a considerable extent. The museum in the undercroft showing some of the Roman heritage of Eboracum is easily forgotten but should not be missed. The cost is quite steep however at £8. Getting a Yorkshire Pass if you intend to visit the Minster along with a few other attractions is well worth the money. We also did get a guided tour of the Minster and our guide was extremely well informed and enthusiastic. Only problem was that the tour went on for just over 3 hours which was far too long (most people disappeared along the way!). Going up the 275 steps to the top of the central tower will set you back another £5. The views from up there are fantastic but it's not worth £5 each! By the time you get to the top you may also feel that you should have been paid for walking all the way up there! The views from Cliffords Tower near the York Castle museum are just as good if not better and it's cheaper and less exhausting!
- Historical Travel
I was dead out of luck
The Minster was closed when I wanted to visit due to Battle of Britian services.
But I got to see the outside and a small part of the interior. - Next time hopefully.
BUT I got to hear the organ :)
- Historical Travel
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One of the great cathedrals
York Minster is a historic, beautiful Gothic church, one of the largest in Europe. It's a working church but also a tourist attraction.
There have been various churches on the site for a thousand years, building of the current one being started in the early 13th century. Work carried on until 1472 when it was declared as completed.
The architecture and the engineering are stunning, the detail in the stonework and stained glass windows are amazing.
You can walk into the main entrance with no charge and view quite a lot of the building but if you want to view the whole building there is a charge. Details are given on the website.
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