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Exploring Norwich - Admiring the Cathedral, Delving into Museums, and Strolling Through Parks and Gardens

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The city’s architectural gems are known as the Norwich 12, and offer highlights from the Norman, medieval, Georgian, Victorian, and modern eras. Almost all Norwich’s sights are close together, linked by ancient streets perfect for pottering, and the riverbank is the ideal place for a stroll. The ruins of the old city walls are worth a look, too, and don't forget to check what's going on at the modern Forum.

Norman cathedral


Begun in 1096, the pale-limestone Cathedral took nearly 50 years to build, and was finally consecrated in 1287. The most complete Norman cathedral in the country, it’s a Romanesque masterpiece with lofty monastic cloisters, over 1,000 carvings, a vaulted ceiling, and a refectory café. The peaceful Cathedral Close, entered through 2 magnificent gateways, is England's largest. Here you’ll find 83 listed buildings, including the Carnary Chapel, the redbrick-and-flint Bishop’s Palace, and many quaint private houses. The cathedral often hosts events and exhibitions, there are free guided tours, and you can listen in on a magical evensong performance from the choir.


  • Norwich Cathedral, The Close, Norwich, Norfolk NR1 4DH; Tel: +44 1603 218300; Website: Norwich Cathedral

Riverside meandering


The River Wensum, which winds close to the city centre, is a Norwich highlight. Near its banks lie several medieval structures, including the cylindrical Cow Tower, part of the old city walls. Next to the pretty Red Lion pub you'll find Bishop Bridge, the city’s oldest, while Pull’s Ferry is an arched water gate from the 15th century. The merchants’ houses of Elm Hill look their best from the riverside, while the lovely Adam and Eve pub is a great place for a refreshing pint. The river walk is well signed, and passes many historic landmarks along the route.


  • Cow Tower, Gas Hill, Norwich NR1 4AA; Website: Cow Tower


Norwich Castle


Norwich's handsome castle was built over 900 years ago by the Normans. First used as a palace, and then as a prison, it now houses archaeological displays, the world’s largest collection of ceramic teapots, and an art gallery with works by Gainsborough and Hogarth. Children will love exploring the dungeons, and there are excellent natural-history dioramas as well as regularly changing exhibitions. The gardens and grounds are well worth a stroll, and you can enjoy stunning city views from the battlements.



Sports and parks


Norwich has numerous ornamental parks, many dating from the 1920s or '30s, and 8 Local Nature Reserves of woodland, heath, or marshland. Chapelfield Gardens is the largest of the central parks; it opened in 1880, and boasts a bright carpet of crocuses in spring. The Grade 2-listed historic parks are Eaton, Heigham, Waterloo, and Wensum, which also have facilities like kids’ playgrounds, tennis, and BMX and skateboarding runs. If you’d rather watch sport than play, head to Carrow Road stadium during the football season to catch a Norwich City Canaries match.



The Forum


There’s always something going on at the thoroughly modern Forum. This venue, built to commemorate the Millennium, includes a heritage centre, tourist information, exhibitions, a gift shop, a café, and an excellent pizza restaurant. It’s also home to the huge Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, the busiest public library in Britain. Everything is free, inside and out, and the entrance steps form an amphitheatre for watching impromptu street performances. It’s one of the Norwich 12, and is renowned for its innovative curved-glass construction.


  • The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 1TF; Tel: +44 1603 727950; Website: The Forum