Great Wall of Chester

It may not be as noticeable, nor as impressive, as the Great Wall of China, but the wall which almost surrounds the city of Chester is the most complete city wall in Britain. Even though the modern city long ago expanded past the boundary of the medieval city, which the wall once protected, the city still has a pleasant charm and is a very interesting place to visit.

Chester is situated on the banks of the River Dee in the County of Cheshire, close to Wales and not too far from Liverpool. Apart from its walls, Chester is also known for its rows. The rows are actually covered walkways which occupy the first floor of two storey buildings, and they exist nowhere else in Britain.

The precise origin of these rows is precisely known, but they did appear after a fire in 1278 virtually destroyed the town, and they could have been built in order to make the buildings more fireproof. These days the rows are used for offices, shops and restaurants, and are found right at the centre of the old city.

Chester was once a major Roman town and the remnants of the amphitheatre still remain. The amphitheatre dates back to the first century and is the largest found in Britain and is estimated to have been capable of holding crowds of 8,000 people. Much of the original amphitheatre was built over by later constructions, and archaeologists are still working to uncover more artefacts and information about the site.

Because Chester has been occupied for so long, and because it was at the conjunction of four main roads which each led to a different direction, there is a mixture of architectural styles and periods within the city, as well as some iconic structures.

One of these is the Eastgate Clock, which was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1899. The clock was built in a prominent position above an existing archway, when an ironwork tower was constructed on top of which the clock was placed. It is a very ornate structure that has four faces, which had to be repaired when thieves stole the hands of the clock in 1988.

The old part of the city is quite compact and is easy to negotiate on foot. To do a circuit of the wall requires a stroll of about 2 miles (3.2 km), but it is a great way to get to know a city that has to be one of the most interesting in all of Britain.

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