Chester – Cheshire, England, United Kingdom

A Walled City and Architectural Feast

In 1779, author James Boswell wrote of Chester: “It pleases me more than any town I ever saw.” Important in Roman times (England’s largest amphitheater is here), the Middle Ages, and during an 18th-century revival, Chester has much to show for its three historical heydays.

A well-preserved fortified wall, one of the finest in England, surrounds much of the his­toric city: built during the Roman period, and rebuilt at different times after that, it is topped by a lovely 2-mile footpath. Parts of the wall bypass the city’s important red sandstone cathedral on two sides and lead to the 19th- century Eastgate, where Chester’s famous wrought-iron clock tower proudly stands.

Chester’s greatest attraction is the city itself: within the walls is one of England’s best collection of black-and-white “magpie” build­ings, some facades a riot of striped patterns.

Anticipating today’s high-rises, the two-tiered decoratively timbered buildings with a con­necting walkway above street level make up the Chester Rows, a popular double-decker shopping area that is the city’s most famous feature. After a day full of history and architecture (and the crowds they attract), repair to the serenity of the city’s premier hotel, the Chester Grosvenor. This handsome 19th-century building in the heart of Chester’s historic neighborhood can trace its origins to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

It is owned by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, and as a sophisticated hotel featuring its own gourmet restaurant, the Arkle, the Grosvenor knows no competition in this area of the country.

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