Dominating the center of York is the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Officially known as "The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York", it is more popularly known as "York Minster." This 800 year old cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of York; the second highest office in the Church of England. We wondered why it was called "minster." Apparently, this refers to any church established during the Anglo-Saxon period that served as a missionary teaching organization. While the first recorded church on this site was built in 627 to baptize Edwin, King of Northumbria, the site itself has had structures on it for 2000 years. Excavations of the undercroft revealed remains of an ancient Roman barracks, from the city of Eboracum. The 128 stained glass windows of the Minster represent half of all of England's surviving medieval Windows. The Great West Window (1338) is the largest medieval stained glass window in the world. While there is an entrance fee of 9 GBP per person, this ticket allows unlimited access to the Minster for one year. So save your ticket!
York Minster can be seen from just about everywhere within the old Roman Walls.
During the Reformation, the Church of England took over all the Catholic Churches within the realm. In the more lenient times of the 19th century, the Catholic Church of St. Wilfred (in the foreground) was rebuilt in a way that looks like the Catholics are snubbing their noses at the York Minster.
Up close, it is even more impressive
Constructed between 1338 and 1339, the Great West Window is considered to be the largest stained glass window in the world.
In the north transept of the York Minster is the equally impressive "Five Sisters" window (dating from around 1260). Each panel is 51 feet high and just over 5 feet wide.
Conspicuously sticking out of the north balcony area is this serpent, or dragon-like beam. Documents as to its original purpose have long disappeared, but theories abound, including use as a lever to raise the lid of a baptismal fond that may have stood underneath. Any guesses?
Another unique feature of the York Minster, is this bell clock inside the cathedral.
During the Middle Ages, only the clergy and the very wealthy were allowed to approach the high altar. The masses were segregated by this "Kings' Screen". These 15 carved statues depict all the Kings from William the Conqueror to Henry VI.
Each of the statues was carved by a different master sculptor.
The octagonal shaped chapter house (built between 1260 and 1286), with its conical roof, played host to Edward I's parliament in 1297.
The space is still used today for meetings of the 44 member College of Canons. Presided over by the Dean, each Canon has his/her own assigned seat along the wall, according to their ranking within the College.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.