Below, the statue of Constantine the Great, located on one side of York Minster. Constantine, born in modern-day Serbia in the 3rd century AD, and whose mother was Greek, changed the name of the city of Byzantium to Constantinople and named it the new capital of the Roman Empire. He also converted to Christianity in his deathbed and changed history.
It so happens that Constantine was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York. Visiting the city last week, this statue reminded me that the concept of purity of race and nationality does not exist and that globalization is an old phenomenon.
The Roman empire as it expanded gave “free” men and women citizenship regardless of place of birth, and this expansion by military conquest, meant that movement of troops, citizens and goods took place across the empire. It is important to remember this, at a time when we insist on erecting barriers to restrict the free movement of people and are hostile to immigrants and refugees. Displacement of people due to military conflict and economic reasons is as old as human history. Although Great Britain is so “British”, we need to remind ourselves that Rome, The Middle East, Greece, Spain are also here in the architecture and the DNA of the people and that we really don’t know if our descendants will have to emigrate too.
For more about Roman Britain, I recommend this wonderful book, “Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain” by Charlotte Higgings.
Featured image: Clifford’s Tower.
Below, inside York Minster. There had been religious structures on that very site for centuries, but this Gothic cathedral was constructed beginning on 1220 and into the 15th century. It was consecrated on 1472. It did suffer damage during the times of the religious reformation in England and more looting and fires through the years and consequently undergone substantial repairs. It is quite a sight and not to be missed when visiting York. I particularly loved the Chapter House. Its gorgeous geometric patterned windows and ceiling and sculptured heads, all of them unique, captured my attention. Also, the Great West Window is the largest medieval stained glass window in the world. A rarity, really. I have visited numerous churches and most of the stained glass is of much later times.
There are tours throughout the day and I quite recommend them.
No visit to the city can be complete without a walk around the City Walls, which surround most of the centre of the town. The Romans constructed walls to defend the city, but the walls we see today are medieval. It takes about a couple of hours to finish the walk. The views from some of the sections of the walls are breath-taking. The Friends of York Walls has all the details of this unique trail.
Below, Micklegate Bar, one of the entrances to the city, located by fashionable Blossom Street and near the rail station. Here is more information about the fascinating history of the street and its beautiful entrance.
Located right in the city centre, near Museum Street, you can find St Mary’s Abbey, a ruined Benedictine abbey built in 1088 and destroyed in the 16th century, following orders by King Henry the 8th. I took the photo below when I first visited York last Spring, which accounts for the blooms. The ruins provide a somewhat romantic backdrop to pretty gardens. It makes a nice, relaxing walk on a sunny day.