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Overview

But for a twist of fate, Chester could have been the capital of England instead of London. In Roman times, the city was home to the largest barracks in the country, but Chester reverted to a country backwater when the Romans pulled back to mainland Europe in the 5th century. In the Middle Ages, Chester was the biggest port in the Northwest and the city had another chance at greatness in the 18th century, when its canals transported Welsh coal to supply the factories of the Industrial Revolution. These days, Chester is best known for its quaint architecture — a mixture of medieval timbered buildings and Victorian copies — and the relics left ...

But for a twist of fate, Chester could have been the capital of England instead of London. In Roman times, the city was home to the largest barracks in the country, but Chester reverted to a country backwater when the Romans pulled back to mainland Europe in the 5th century. In the Middle Ages, Chester was the biggest port in the Northwest and the city had another chance at greatness in the 18th century, when its canals transported Welsh coal to supply the factories of the Industrial Revolution. These days, Chester is best known for its quaint architecture — a mixture of medieval timbered buildings and Victorian copies — and the relics left behind from 2000 years of history. Topping the list are the cathedral and the almost intact medieval city walls, but it's also worth visiting the curious split-level shops of the Rows, one of the oldest shopping arcades in Britain. Other highlights include the excellent Chester Zoo — one of the best in the country — and the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, 13 km from Chester along the Shropshire Union Canal.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    March to October, but accommodation can be in short supply from June to September.