Detailed review by happysh2009
United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Advantages: magnificent architecture reflecting over a thousand years of history and religion.
Disadvantages: none that I can see.
As the King George VI said “The history of York is the history of England. I don’t know how right he was, but I would like to say the history of York Minster is the history of York indeed.
York Minster is Europe's largest remaining medieval church, also the world's great masterpiece in design and construction of an exquisite church.
Back to AD 627 York's first Minster was built to christen the present Anglo Saxon King, Edwin of Northumbria. It was originally a small wooden church, and then rebuilt to be a bigger stone one later. However it was badly damaged by fire in the year 1069 of the Normans region period of the city of York.
Around the year 1080 Normans started building a cathedral, which was completed 20 years later and on the very site of the Saxon church. Incidentally near this place Constantine the Great was proclaimed Roman Emperor in 306.
In the 13th century people started to build the South and North transepts, and then the East end with the building of the Lady Chapel and the Quire, until 1472 the Western towers were added and the Minster finally completed to be the one we know today. That said the Minster had taken about 250 years to take shape.
It was a Catholic church before 1534. Now it is a Christian working church as well as a popular tourist site. It is open daily except for the service times. As a tourist you can enter to the Minster, Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt and Tower. Currently the entry prices to these sites are £9.50 for adults, £3.00 for children and £8.00 for concessions. You can also choose single site or mixed sites to visit, accordingly the prices would be lower a little bit. Do remember children under the age of 8 may not climb the Tower.
What you can see
York Minster is very important within the Church of England. It is the seat of the Archbishop of York, after the most prominent seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. As the second largest Gothic Cathedral in Europe, it is 158 metres long and 60 metres high. Besides admiring the magnificent buildings there are certainly a lot of things to see. Here I have just selected a few that attracted me the most.
1. The Rose Window
The Rose Window is something that no visitor can fail to miss. It’s just at the front entrance and a stained glass window, which is considered to be the most beautiful window of the minster. It tells the story of two houses of York and Lancaster, which historically had fights and at last united each other.
2. The Great East Window
The Great Eastern Window is the largest single piece of stained glass in the world. That depicts the beginning and the end of the world based on the Bible stories. You really have to see it to believe it is almost the size of a tennis court and dated back between 1405 and 1408.
3. The Great West Window
The Great West Window is in the nave, also known as the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’ due to the looks in the centre, which was constructed in 1338.
4. The Five Sisters Window
The Five Sisters Window is in the north transept and has five rectangle glasses, which is over 16 metres tall and the earliest window on this spot.
5. The Screen
It’s the most impressive screen I've ever seen. Instead of religious figures the screen displays with statues of 15 English kings, from William I to Henry VI.
6. The Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt
Walking down the stairs of the minster you will find skeletons of buildings that were on the site of the Minster before it was built, such as the remains of a Roman fortress as well as the Viking and medieval carvings. You can also have a look at the collection of treasures.
7. The Tower
It is the largest church tower in England. That means you have to climb 275 steep steps to get the top. The views from the top by all means are breathtaking and outstanding. Walking along the tower you can see almost all of York, even more if the sky is clear. Not to mention the medieval streets and horse carriages down below that can take you back in time.
Needless to say I’m very 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.
However when I was there in the late night I came across the visit of the Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux. Mingling with the thousand visitors and pilgrims in the spacious and bright palace I was really fascinated by the power of religion. It became the clearest memory of my trip to the Minster and the city of York.
Summary: A vital medieval cathedral strongly impressed me.
PS. Welcome to visit my blog for more pictures.