Let’s be honest: no one likes to read about boring history, but this street is one you’ll want to know the story of (and maybe potentially visit? 😉 ).
I should preface by saying that it’s been a long time since my last post. I came back to Sweden at the end of Summer and thought I’d do one last post about the city. My time in York is officially over, and it has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had; one I will look back on with a big smile. So, I thought a great way to end my documentation of the trip is a post about a quintessential York attraction; The Shambles street.
The Shambles is an old street that used to house butchers’ shops. It’s all in the title, as Shambles is actually an Old English word that meant “a place for slaughtering animals”. Resembling a meat market, the street was the location in which animals were slaughtered and made ready for sale. Cut to now, and the street does not even have one butcher’s shop, but has instead become a tourist attraction that is almost never empty. What’s more, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might recognise it because it’s the inspiration behind the great Diagon Alley! How fun?! 🙂
The street is divided into 2 parts. The street itself and the Shambles Market. The street is ideal both for shopping or to simply walk along it and look at the shops and the intricate little items they sell. (Being the inspiration behind Diagon Alley, there are 5 Harry Potter-themed shops in this little street alone, and that’s if I haven’t forgotten one!)
I was very lucky in that I passed The Shambles every day on my way to uni, so I grew a connection to it. Early morning class and I’m barely awake? I passed it. Afternoon class where tourists filled the shops? I passed it. Finished class at 5 pm and it’s pitch black and cold in the Winter? check. So many memories, and it feels great to have lived with it as part of my “normal” for few months instead of experiencing it only few times.
The Shambles Market runs parallel to the street and has everything from food stops to clothing and art stands, and even a small farmers’ market that especially sells fresh produce on Saturdays. It’s great for buying some vegetables and fruits but really more so you can feel like you live in the countryside as you fill your shopping bag with what you know is local and cannot be gotten anywhere else. 🙂
A little farther down the road there are two shops that caught my heart; Hebden Tea shop and Minster Gate Book Shop. Hebden Tea has few more shops in the city and aside from having a wide variety of teas to choose from, they always have some brewed tea to try while you pass. I don’t think I’ve ever passed without trying what they have. Especially good on a cold day. 🙂
The Minster Gate Book Shop has the coziest feeling a shop can have. It’s small and radiates warmness, and although the books are organized in broad categories, they are for the most part placed randomly, so you discover as you go. It brings back the feeling of being “lost” in literature, and spending a long time flicking through different books, many of which you haven’t seen or heard of before. There are books on the shelf, on the floor and along the steps as you climb up the stairs. If York has the feeling of going back in time then this shop best expresses that feeling.
There are more shops that can be mentioned (the vintage jewelry shops along the street, the sweets shop making great-smelling fudge every morning, or the little shops selling tweed scarves and hats to make you feel like Sherlock), but we’ll be here all night, and I wouldn’t wanna tell everything, since words can only match the experience so much 🙂 So I’ll wrap by saying the cold of Winter was balanced by the warmth and beauty felt as you walk in The Shambles with a cup of hot chocolate, or if it’s Summer and too hot, then the ice cream from The Market will make it a worthwhile trip still. All in all, to say it’s a must-visit is an understatement.