Explore Leicester - 2000 years of history

Leicester is a city bursting with arts, culture, history, festivals, attractions, shopping and food and drink.  Delve into Leicester's past, discover ancient Egypt, Richard III or explore outer space, this city has lots of places to visit to keep the whole family entertained.

2,000 years of history ...

From its origins as an important Roman settlement to a successful industrial city, Leicester boasts a colourful 2,000 year history. Its position at the heart of the country has made it a convenient meeting place for famous figures over the centuries including King Richard III, King Henry VI and Cardinal Wolsey.  Come and visit our city and piece together the jigsaw that makes up our rich history.  

Today you can see one of the highest Roman walls in the country at the Jewry Wall Museum on St Nicholas Circle and next door at St Nicholas Church you will find the best example of Saxon architecture in the city.  It is Leicester’s oldest church and stands right behind the Jewry Wall, Saxon windows can be found inside the church. William the Conqueror granted Leicester to Hugh de Grantmesnil shortly after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was he who built the castle on what is now Castle Gardens and the motte is still clearly visible. 

Medieval landmarks that can be seen today include the Guildhall on Guildhall Lane and the Magazine Gateway at Southgates. The timber framed Guildhall was Leicester’s Town Hall until 1876 and is now open to the public as a museum.  The Magazine was the original main gateway into The Newarke and was used to store the weapons of the town’s militia.

During Tudor times, William Wygston, who was Leicester’s richest citizen, built his Chantry House in 1511 which still stands, the only Elizabethan urban gentry house to survive in Leicestershire. The Chantry House can be visited as it is now part of the Newarke Houses Museum and Wygston’s Hospital buildings, managed by De Montfort University, can be visited on application. 

Well-known Leicester landmarks built in the late 19th century include the Clock Tower in 1868 and the Town Hall built in 1876.  In 1841 Thomas Cook started off what we now know as the modern travel industry when he organised a trip from Leicester to Loughborough by train. Thomas Cook lived in Leicester for over 50 years and there are a variety of buildings connected to him in the city centre.

The first theatre in Leicester was De Montfort Hall which was opened in 1913, it is run by Leicester City Council and is a popular venue that holds a variety of concerts all year round. 

Leicester is a city of regeneration and has re-developed its city offer with the opening of the Highcross shopping centre and Curve in 2008 and the Phoenix Cinema opened in 2009 to complete the Cultural Quarter which has also seen new cafes, restaurants and accommodation built in the area.

Now, it is the largest city in the East Midlands and today the multi-cultural city population has reached 300,000 and is still growing. 


Places to visit

Leicester loves to celebrate the creativity of little minds and throughout the year has a calendar of family events including Spark Children's Festival, Riverside Festival and the Castle Park Festival.

With such a vibrant city comes food that is just as diverse and exciting.  Your taste buds will take a trip around the world with the abundance of restaurants that Leicester has to offer - English, Thai, Indian, Greek, French and lots more choices.  Leicester also has an eclectic mix of bars, clubs and great music venues.

There's a choice to theatres and live entertainment to visit with orchestras, musicals, plays and lots more to satisfy your cultural appetite. 

If you're after this season's must have, Leicester has plenty of shops and boutiques for those dedicated followers of fashion.  Visit Stoneygate  for an exclusive shopping experience, Belgrave Road for Indian jewellery and clothing, The Lanes in Leicester city centre are great for window shopping and visit the Highcross  for John Lewis and other major shops.

Experience a day out, a weekend away or enjoy spending time with family and friends doing something different - Leicester is a city waiting for you to explore.

Hover over the images below for inspiration


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