As a city with such a rich and exciting history, Norwich is positively spilling over with heritage sites to visit! As England’s second city during the medieval period right through to the start of the Industrial Revolution (elevated to this position in part thanks to the River Wensum, which was once used for the city’s key transportation of goods and trade), the city has a long history of prosperity and culture, and today is still East Anglia’s capital city.
You’ll find a fantastic blend of historic interest and modern sophistication, with a variety of buildings and sites to spot. You’ll see industrial buildings and mills throughout the city alongside ancient bridges and spectacles like Cow Tower and Bishop Bridge (one of the oldest bridges still in use in England today), as well as a mix of medieval streets, lanes and alleyways. Elm Hill is a particularly picturesque and historic area to pay a visit to – nestled within Norwich’s Cathedral Quarter, you’ll find attractive half-timbered Tudor houses, lovely little antique shops and delightful coffee houses and tea rooms – and of course the famous cobbled streets which Elm Hill is known for!
The city’s museums and art galleries are truly fantastic, and there are some amazing parks and riverside walks to enjoy, too. Medieval churches play a huge part in Norwich’s heritage, with Norwich once being able to famously boast having “a church for every week of the year”, many of which are now lost or used for other purposes but still standing today (Norwich Puppet Theatre and Hungate Medieval Art are both key examples of this). The city also proudly presents two cathedrals: the first is one of the finest complete Romanesque cathedrals in Europe and the other, glorious Victorian Gothic Revival.
There are plenty of quirky heritage sites to visit in Norfolk – for example, in 2013 the 700,000 year old Happisburgh hand-axe topped the list of the country’s 50 most important finds in recent years (found in 2000) as featured in ITV’s Britain’s Secret Treasures. This discovery pre-dated human activity in Britain by 200,000 years and is now considered the earliest known location for humans in north-west Europe. The Happisburgh hand-axe and other breath-taking treasures including the 7th-century Balthild seal-ring matrix and gold from Queen Boudica’s time are displayed at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.
We’d also recommend a visit to the Roman town of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund (AD60 or 61), just 4 miles from Norwich and part of Boudicca Way, and stunning Wymondham Abbey. Its ruins are located in the market town of Wymondham (Norwich 10 miles), and they date back 900 years!