York in itself is a beautiful city but York Minster is actually one of England’s most popular attractions. This Gothic Cathedral is also one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.
York Minster was voted one of the UK’s Seven Wonders by visitors in 2002. This cathedral was one of the first places in York that I got to explore and I think I actually spent a couple of hours inside exploring its beautiful architecture and reading all about its colourful history.
As I approached the Cathedral I was hit by the jovial summer atmosphere of the Beautiful city of York. A guy sat outside the Cathedral playing piano and even had an audience forming, some ladies even brought some chairs so that they could sit and listen.
As I walked through the beautifully decorated doorway and entered the beautiful Cathedral the sight of the amazing vaulted ceiling and the decorated walls took my breath away. The present Cathedral building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472. It took them more than 200 years to build this amazing Cathedral and if you look at all the detail of this building it is quite easy to see why!!
It is filled with unique and fantastic carvings and the world’s greatest collection of intact, Medieval stained glass windows.
The Rose Window, a stained glass masterpiece high in the South Transept of York Minster, was nearly lost after lightning struck the Minster in the 1980s causing a severe fire in the Minster’s wooden roof. This beautiful stained glass window was added near the end of the 15th century to commemorate the end of the War of the Roses and honor the Tudor dynasty.
York Minster’s collection of Medieval stained glass windows is among the finest and rarest in the world. Most of the important windows still have their original, Medieval stained glass dating from as early as 1270. The Great East Window over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world.
I learned that maintaining the Minster’s amazing Medieval windows is a full time job. There are 128 stained glass windows, containing about 2 million individual pieces of Medieval glass. To be cleaned, each window must actually be taken apart so that each piece of stained glass can be individually cleaned. Then the windows are reassembled and re-leaded. Each window is cleaned about once every 125 years. To do all the windows at once would take about 200 years!
York Minster’s Central Tower, also known as the Lantern Tower, is an amazing feat of 15th century engineering. Built between 1407 and 1433, it stands more than 230 feet – the height of a 23-story building, and weighs 16,000 metric tonnes – the weight of 40 jumbo jets! You can pay extra to climb up the 275 steps for close up views and overviews of York Minsters’ pinnacles, gargoyles and carvings. Unfortunately I only found this out after my visit so I never did make it to the top of the Tower.