Norwich, right in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, may be small but it is beautfully formed! It is one of the most photogenic cities in England and what it lacks in size, it makes up for with sheer vibrant, cosmopolitan charm. It simply bursts with energy and life in the city is certainly full of joy and surprises. No cars needed here, you can walk comfortably around all the sites, the mediaeval buildings are perfectly preserved and the catacombs discovered under the existing buildings, are a marvel to see. The bustling and colourful market, not to mention the modern buzzing Malls making Norwich a mecca for shoppers from all over the country. All this is presided over by the Norwich Castle, guarding the City from all foes. Norwich often lends its pretty face to the filming of period dramas and tv shows - well known actors closely followed by production teams can be spotted regularly filming in and around the lovely Cathedral grounds and mediaeval streets.
Norwich is very easy to get to either by train, car, boat or plane, so there is no excuse not to come and visit for a while.
Of course it is very hard to miss the history and origins of this city, the massive Castle Keep stands sentinel over the city and some of the city wall is still standing. Alongside the river, beautiful merchant houses stand giving a bit of a nod to the wealth brought to the City by the waterways.
Interestingly, perhaps the reason for the vibrancy and energy of modern Norwich came from the fact that there were once 52 churches and 365 pubs within the city walls, so celebrating life is in the genes!
Although modern Norwich has spread around the old heart of the City, the visitor would do well to explore all the little lanes, cobbled streets and museums as well as the two magnificent cathedrals that dominate the skyline. The shopping!
Visitors from far and wide throng to Norwich to enjoy the delights of a shopping experience. Not only are there two malls harbouring the elite names in fashion, but the winding, small streets contain niche shops selling things that money cannot buy anywhere else. The Norwich shopping area spans a compact area, which is mostly pedestrian only, so exploring every store is not an exhausting process and if tired, relief is close at hand in one of the wonderful cafes - which are also ideal for keeping a fed up spouse in one place and happy!
The colourful and atmospheric Market has been in existence for ever and today it is a modern and bustling city market. At Christmas, the Market comes alive with the Spirit of Christmas with stall holders stocking a lot of produce and products grown or made in Norfolk and of course, mistletoe is festooned freely - so beware of what is above you when standing still!
In the Middle Ages, much of the wealth of Norwich came from the wool trade and the weaving industry that came with it. The internationally recognised collection of costume and textiles is held at the Shirehall Costume and Textile Study Centre in Market Avenue Street, Norwich and contains some 25,000 items dating from the sixteenth century to the present day.
Of the 700 plus shawls there, 200 were manufactured in Norwich and remain a vivid reminder of how important Norwich was and how the trade and wealth created helped shape the city into what you can see today and some of the language used can be traced back to the ‘Strangers’ who came from the Low Countries to work in the textile industry.
Modern Norwich is a very clean city with little industry to pollute the air. The breweries and the chocolate factory that once dominated the heart of the City have both gone, but the wonderful smells of hops and chocolate still linger in the minds of those locals over the age of fifty!
For the history buffs amongst you, a must visit is to the numerous City museums which display fascinating and concise histories of the City and chart its rise to power. A stop is necessary at the Caley Chocolate museum and Colmans Mustard Museum – good tip, make sure you taste the mustards first!
Norwich City’s cobbled streets are lined with an assortment of market stalls, malls, boutiques and galleries filled with everything from modern fashions to enchanting antique shops all of which have helped promote Norwich into the shopping mecca of today.
The River Wensum runs through Norwich giving a ‘Little Venice’ feel to it so if you like being on the water, take a river trip on a self drive dayboat or on a punt - a duck’s eye view so to speak of the city! There are riverside walks too, so a gentle stroll along them provides wonderful views of the city and also there are still signs of its industrial past and the odd stone round tower indicating where the city walls once stood. There are several riverside pubs beckoning to the weary explorer of the riverside walks and so taking advantage of the lovely sunshine and outdoor seating, a locally made pint offers welcome respite from the information overload.
Whilst you have been trotting about the cobbled streets of the Norwich Lanes, you will notice lots of Cafes and restaurants with their alfresco eating areas nestling under the protection of medieval buildings. Leave time to sit and enjoy wonderful fresh local food or even a beer from one of the micro breweries that flourish in Norwich.
Another little known fact outside of Norwich is that the football league chant, described as the worlds oldest football song, belongs to The Canaries, Norwich City Football Club… There is no end to this City’s talents!