Today we went and saw York Minster. It is the largest medieval Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. In fact, it is so large that five fully grown blue whales can be lain head-to-tail and still fit inside it. The Minster is largely recognized for it’s extremely large stain glass windows. They are some of the oldest surviving stained glass windows in the country. The building is about 800 years old and was built in various stages over many years. In 1220, construction on it began as the vision of Archbishop Walter de Gray. The first building only consisted of what is now the south transept. The first addition occurred in the mid-1200s and consisted of what is now the north transept and a large central tower connected to the south transept. The next addition consisted of the nave and a chapter house that was connected to the north transept and this occurred in the late 1200s. The choir was the final addition to the cathedral and was added in the early 1400s. In 1407, the massive central tower burned down and was rebuilt, being finished in 1420. The cathedral was deemed completely finished and consecrated in 1472 upon the finishing of the smaller western towers. Upon walking into the tower, I was completely taken aback. The inside view of this enormous building is absolutely breathtaking. Dr. L gave us a nice little tour of the cathedral starting in the nave. The nave is stunning to look at, and is undoubtedly Gothic as proven by its pointed arches. This is the widest Gothic nave in England and the roof is actually wooden, but it is painted to make it look like stone. There are countless coats of arms or wealthy families that have contributed to the church lining the walls. Perhaps more noticeable in the nave are the numerous stained glass windows, particularly the Great West Window. This window is known as the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’ due to its shape. Next we headed over to the south transept. There are various shrines found here, but the Rose Window is what steals the show here. On a bright day this window projects a kaleidoscope of colors. The central tower is also located in the south transept. We were lucky to get the opportunity to climb to the top of this tower. The trek up consisted of 275 steps, but the magnificent view at the top made it all worth it (Wartburg Worth it).
Next we headed over to the north transept where again there were various shrines. This area was dominated by the Five Sisters Window. This window is huge and is the only British memorial to be dedicated to women that lost their lives in the First World War. After the north transept, we walked into the connected chapter house. This room is absolutely gorgeous! It is an incredible piece of art all by itself. It contains an elaborate, high-rising vaulted ceiling that surprisingly does not contain a central support pillar.
After the chapter house we headed to the choir and the east end of the cathedral. The most notable structure here is the the Great East Window. This is he largest stained medieval glass in England is so big that it is roughly the size of a tennis court. It depicts the start of the world as told in the book of Genesis and the Apocalypse as told in the book of Revelation. We finished off our tour in the undercroft and the crypt. This is essentially the “basement” of the cathedral and shows the underlying support structures as well as a couple of archeological dig sites that show periods prior to the Minster. York Minster was the coolest place I had visited yet by far.