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Norwich

By on July 16, 2016

Two hours away from London, in the South East of England, Norwich is a thriving centre for culture and history. This vibrant, cosmopolitan and yet quiet city is a perfect stop from the busy capital and a good base to explore the Norfolk coastline, The Broads National Park, and the Norfolk Lavender fields. The city built on river Wensum was once the second largest city in England after London, it had an important place in the kingdom. In the 9th century, it was a thriving centre for trade and commerce but its destruction was brought about by the Vikings. The city has an interesting history from the arrival of its first jews in the 10th century leading to the massacre of the entire Jewish Community later in the century, establishing trade with many countries in Europe from Scandinavia to Spain, to the city being the only one to be excommunicated followed by a riot between the monks and the citizens.

In the 16th century, the Flemings from Spain bought with them advanced weaving techniques and the little yellow bird, which eventually became the mascot of the city and the emblem of their football team, The Norwich City, F.C

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The Cathedral of Norwich dominates the skyline with one of the tallest spires in England. The church was built over two years with the stone imported from Normandy. It is used as a place of worship open to the public for free, it is also used by the students of Norwich school for their daily morning assembly and for the concerts and exhibitions. While we were visiting, rehearsals for the concert later in the evening were going on. The cathedral is huge and one can walk around looking at the interesting play of light and shadow through the tainted glasses, light a candle or just sit in solace. The church is also home to a font used in Baptism which originally was used in a Chocolate factory to make chocolates but when the factory closed down it was presented to the church.

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The cathedral is best viewed from the Norwich Castle which sits on a hill offering a top view. The Castle built in the 9th century now houses the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery with its archeological, art and historical finds. If you don’t want to pay the steep 8.35£ as the entry fee, you can stroll around the Castle and still enjoy the view of the city from there or stop at the cafe for a cup of tea. Or else go an hour before it closes and for only £2.00, not a bad deal. Once done with the castle, walk over the bridge to the Castle Mall for some shopping or to grab some food in their food court.

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We walked along the banks of River Wensum with the weeping willows stooping down to the water. It’s a picturesque walk, different from the buzz of the city centre, grab a coffee on the go and find the bench that matches your zodiac sign and spend some time there next to the river. Walk further down the cobblestones street with the river on one side and the colorful houses on the other, watching people zooming past in the cycles, couples walking along the river or chatting up with one of the boatsmen. With paths on both sides of the river, you’ll come across the medieval gateway of Pulls Ferry or the medieval artillery tower, Cow’s Tower or take a short detour to visit the magnificent Cathedral.

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I grabbed some lunch at the Norwich Market, it’s a covered market and supposed to be the oldest market in England. A short walk from the market is Forum, a huge glass building which houses the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library and the BBC headquarters. The library has a huge collection of United States’ culture and it’s relationship with East Anglia, much of which was destroyed in the fire in 1994. It is the most visited library in the country. The Forum is also a leading venue in the city for concerts, exhibitions, and other events.

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I spent the rest of the day walking around the city exploring its narrow cobblestone streets, a pleasant surprise for me. The streets in Elm Hill with its Tudor style timbre houses are stunning, most of which have been converted to shops and cafes. The street is one of the loveliest streets and is same in appearance as it was when it was rebuilt after the fire in 1507. Walk down this street reading the blue plaque placed on the facade of the buildings which tell the stories of the buildings and the people who lived in them.

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I came across a vintage market inside a church, another surprise. I went in curious to see a market set up inside the premises of a church and was absolutely stunned, it is one of the most beautiful vintage markets I’ve been to. I love vintage markets and have been to many in England but this was unlike anything I’d seen, the church setting made it just more surreal and a delight to look through so many objects on sale.

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DSC_0467Norwich is not only known for its history and heritage but equally for its art and culture, hosting the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. With the Norwich Playhouse, The Maddermarke Theatre, and the Norwich Puppet Theatre, the city has a rich theatre culture attracting some of the best playwrights from across the world. It’s much more far ahead in literature with Julian of Norwich, who was the first woman to write a book in the English language to Anna Sewell, the writer of Black Beauty. It is also England’s first Unesco World City of Literature. DSC_0550

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We stayed in this magnificent building with our friend,Prabhu. This was the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital built in the 1771, now a residential block

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Norwich is a great city break, ideal for exploring on foot. One could spend the whole day jumping from one attraction to another, shopp:ng in the malls or independent boutiques, visiting the museums and galleries or spending time in the various watering holes, it is rumoured that the city has 365 pubs, one for each day 🙂 It’s a charming city where every street, museum, and pub have their own distinct stories to tell. Bring yourself to this city and hear what the walls have to say.

 

Discover the villages in England:

Time travel to the village of Lavenham, an hour from Norwich or visit the villages of Cotswold. 

 

 

 

                      Do you like the cities or the countryside in England?

            Leave a comment below and tell us if Norwich has made it to your list.

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Vatsal is a techie and a coffee junkie. Most often he’s caught watching a film with Guinness for company. Preeti loves everything about the mountains. She always has her head buried in a book sipping tea.
We both love traveling and watching films so we decided to document some of it. Hope you enjoy reading as much as we’ve enjoyed traveling and writing about them 🙂

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