First, I did not visit solo but rather with my 24-year partner and her mother. TA did not offer a category of travel partners that just says "FAMILY". Secondly, my review is not just about Chester's walls but about ALL of this amazing little city.
CHESTER is, like Napier, New Zealand, unique! While Napier is an entire city of art deco architecture, Chester is almost entirely Elizabethan/Tudor, surrounded by Roman, medieval-enhanced walls, contains both a remarkable cathedrals and the equally intriguing Norman-era St. John's Church, sits picture-perfect on the River Dee, and is just plain fun to wander thru or above.
Above? Well, the central 8 or so square blocks of the city are surrounded by a mainly still-intact ring of Roman and medieval walls. Atop the wall -- roughly 1-1/2 stories aboveground --, you can walk where Roman and medieval guards paced, around the entire city center! The beautifully-executed explanatory embossed plaques found frequently along the walltop walkway, the views, the revelations as you pass by hidden gardens, canals, King Charles' tower, schools and cathedrals, and look down on the urban bustle in this flashback place are wonderful.
The city center is mainly of Elizabethan half-timbered buildings that feature continuous balconies thru each block one story above ground, so that you can shop not just all the ground floor storefronts, but you also find an entire additional row of shops and offices one story up on these unique raised arcades called the "Rows".
Walking the cobbled streets leads you to military barracks, a university, two cathedrals, and even a uniquely beautiful early 1900s auto dealership-turned-public-library. Narrow lanes, arcades, church grounds featuring granite trackways left over from carriage days -- Chester is a genuinely unique, intact and lovely Tudor town.
Oh, and a Roman town, too. After all, "Chester" is like "caster" -- another variant on the Roman word for "castle". Just outside the walls you'll find the recently unearthed and restored Roman amphitheater.
A wide range of lodgings, restaurants, snack spots, antiquing, walks, even watching world-class horse-racing or barging, kayaking, or shelling on the Dee are available in Chester. The town attracts all ages, and everyone seems to be in a good mood there -- its easy, in such an amazing place. I watched seniors watching squirrels, critics watching artists, teens watching teens, then stumbled on another teen skillfully practicing the upcoming Sunday's service on St. John's huge old pipe organ.
And if all this isn't enough for you, you can drive (or ride a train) for just a few hours into Wales and up to the rhododendron-covered slate mountaintop town of BLAENAU FFESTINIOG, where you can then board the oldest still-operating railroad in the world for a beautifully scenic 13+-mile trip down to the Atlantic coastal town of Porthmadog and back. And home to Chester in time for a sunset dinner.
"Attraction" doesn't begin to explain Chester. What a gem! I hope you find a chance to see this cool town -- you'll need at least 2-3 days.
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