It was hard to say goodbye to Ralph (the cutest dog in Saltburn) and to Yorkshire, but it was time for my last day in England – at least I thought it would be my last one… and I had chosen Newcastle upon Tyne as my last English stop.
Newcastle developed around a Roman settlement, known as Pons Aelius, founded in the 2nd century and was named after the castle built in 1080. In the 14th century, Newcastle became an important player in the wool trade and later on became a major coal mining area.
For me it was just a short walk from the train station to my hotel in the middle of the city, ready to go explore! Right around the corner was Newcastle Cathedral, filled with stunning coloured glass windows.
Cathedral Church of St Nicholas
Founded in 1091 at the same time as the castle, the original Norman church was destroyed by fire in 1216. The current cathedral was completed in 1350.
The cathedral is notable for its unusual lantern spire, which was constructed in 1448. For hundreds of years, it was a main navigation point for ships using the River Tyne. (Wikipedia)
The Castle in Newcastle
Right next to the cathedral is the Castle of Newcastle, founded in 1091 on the site of the Roman fort Pons Aelius, guarding the bridge of the River Tyre.
The Black Gate was added by Henry III between 1247 and 1250, a fortified gatehouse. Later on, houses were added on both sides of the passageway, part of the building became a pub. But at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Black Gate had become a slum tenement, housing up to sixty people.
Today it houses the ticket office and a tiny museum. Both the Black Gate and Castle Keep underwent restoration works and were reopened in 2015 as Newcastle Castle.
The entrance to Castle Keep itself is on the other side of the railway tracks.
Inside there is a big hall, some living areas and more but the real interesting part for me was climbing up the stairs to the rooftop and enjoying the view over Newcastle from up there!
Back downstairs I continued my walk through Newcastle towards the Quai, with a short break at Side Gallery to visit an amazing photo exhibition.
Quayside High Level Bridge
The Quayside High Level Bridge, designed by Robert Stephenson, was built across the Tyne in 1849, joining Newcastle and Gateshead to carry road and rail traffic. This was followed in 1876 by the Swing Bridge which was built and designed by William Armstrong to allow larger ships to pass either side. Both of these bridges pre-date the iconic Tyne Bridge but allowed Newcastle’s trade and ship-building industries to flourish in the latter part of the 18th century. (Newcastle Gateshead)
There are many more bridges over River Tyne today…
After a short walk along the river, I made my way back up into the city centre, towards the Victorian Market. Many of the buildings in the city were built during the Victorian era after builder Richard Grainger won a competition to produce a new city plan for central Newcastle.
Newcastle´s Chinatown lies next to the shopping district within the historic centre on land that was once part of Blackfriars monastery. The very first Chinese restaurant opened here in 1949 and was later followed by a Chinese supermarket and many other businesses. Some of them looked like casinos.
These remains of Newcastle city walls are the boundary of the district on the northeast side.