The compact city of Durham in the north east of England is perhaps one of the most splendidly situated cities in the country and boasts one of the most dramatic townscapes to be seen. Built on a wooded, sandstone outcrop and surrounded on three sides by the River Wear, Durham can trace its history back over a thousand years. It is the only English city to be once ruled as a County Palatinate by a Prince Bishop who commanded his own army and with the right to decree his own privileges. The ruling bishops retained this right, albeit latterly in name only, until 1836 when revoked by Act of Parliament.
Today the dramatic outlines of the castle and cathedral perched on top of the hill with downhill streets and winding alleys, known as vennels, stand as a reminder to this great historic past.
Places to visit.
Durham castle – the castle itself dates from 1072. Until 1832 the seat of the Prince Bishops, it is now a college of Durham University, the third oldest university in the country. The main features to see are the 11th century Norman chapel and great hall, the three storey 57 foot high Black Staircase, and 15th century kitchens. A 16th century chapel contains exquisitely carved choir stalls.
Durham Cathedral – probably the greatest and finest example of Norman architecture in the world. Building work began in 1093, and although completed by 1135, there have been many later additions. The Cathedral houses the tomb of the Venerable Bede with a shrine to St Cuthbert. Other notable treasures include the relics of St Cuthbert, the original 12th century sanctuary knocker which gave all fugitives seizing hold of it the right to sanctuary within, illuminated historic texts and cathedral plates and vessels. The central tower at 217 feet, 66 metres, can be climbed and affords magnificent views from the tower roof over the surrounding countryside.
The Guildhall – dating back to 1356 and rebuilt in 1535 and 1665 is associated with the old city guilds, the regulatory bodies for local city trades.
Town Hall – built in 1850 when the Guildhall was considered too small, it is modelled on Westminster Hall London and includes fine stained glass windows, large fireplace and paintings.
Other places worth visiting include Crook Hall a 14th century manor house, Almhouses on Palace Green, Museum of Archaelogy, Oriental Museum, Durham Heritage Centre and Durham Light Infantry Museum and Art Gallery.
Being such a compact city Durham offers many nice walks along the riverbanks, through parks and gardens, down winding streets and across the three old bridges, Elvet, Prebends and Framwellgate. However, Durham also has all the amenities associated with a modern city in addition to its older charms
For further information visit:- http://www.visitcountydurham.com/