Iconic structures in Yorkshire: what you need to know

16th February 2021

York Minster in sunshine

Yorkshire is home to a number of wonderful landmarks and structures, all telling a part of this fascinating county’s story through their architecture and history. From ancient abbeys and modern marvels to gothic masterpieces and magnificent manors, Yorkshire has it all. To help introduce you to some of what Yorkshire has to offer, and perhaps inspire a visit in the future when that is possible, we are going to highlight a handful of these iconic structures. So, if you are looking to learn a little more about Yorkshire, this guide will be a great place to start.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire

Located on the beautiful coast of North Yorkshire in the lovely town of Whitby, you will find an iconic landmark waiting with more than its fair share of history. Whitby Abbey was a 7th-century monastery turned Benedictine abbey and its massive ruins sit picturesquely overlooking the dramatic North Sea from its clifftop position. Sadly, Henry VIII’s assault on the Catholic Church in the 16th century saw its treasures confiscated along with other monasteries across the country, leading to its demise and ruin. It was named as a Grade I listed building in the 20th century and is now under the care of English Heritage. Whitby Abbey is also famously found in ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, providing the ruins with a haunting aura for many a visitor.

Whitby Abbey is just a stone’s throw away from scenic Robin Hood’s Bay Hotels, and Danielle, from the travel blog While I’m Young, has visited this fantastic landmark herself. She says that “climbing the 199 Church Stairs to the Abbey, a looming gothic ruin crowning the East Cliff that’s dripping in Dracula-themed history” is a must when in the area, also praising the “beautiful, sweeping views of the town below.”

READ ALSO: Yorkshire National Trust locations to visit after lockdown

The Piece Hall

The Piece Hall

Once a trading place for handloom weavers, The Piece Hall in Halifax is yet another iconic structure to enjoy in Yorkshire. A Grade I listed building, The Piece Hall opened back in 1779 and has since been transformed into a modern-day public square, replete with shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy. It’s one of the most extraordinary retail and leisure locations in the country, surrounding a 66,000 square foot courtyard that is used for music performances and other events. Recognised as one of Europe’s great public squares, The Piece Hall is the only intact surviving cloth hall in the UK, a link to our Georgian past, and a stunning architectural gem that takes its deserved place among Yorkshire’s most recognisable landmarks.

Cat, from the travel blog Flying Scots Girl, is a big fan of The Piece Hall, sharing with us: “Walking into The Piece Hall feels like you might have been transported across Europe to Italy and its charming market squares. Imagine the hustle and bustle that would have emanated from here as traders made their deals for 'pieces' of cloth when The Piece Hall opened in the 18th century! Today you can visit plenty of independent shops and cafes that have found a home inside the revamped building. I love that there are so many things to uncover and enjoy heading over to The Piece Hall to spend time looking through the shops for gifts in one of the most incredible gems of Georgian architecture in the country!”

York Minster

York Minster exterior

York Minster is not only one of the most iconic structures in Yorkshire but one of the most recognisable in all of England. York Minster is the second-largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and truly has to be seen to be believed. This majestic building is located in the ancient city of York and was completed in 1472 after several centuries of construction. Devoted to Saint Peter, York Minster is an impressive place of worship, featuring the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. Its awe-inspiring towers dominate the surrounding skyline and the interior certainly doesn’t disappoint either. From being attacked by Danes in 1075 to the destruction of its overtly Catholic features during the Reformation, York Minster has history everywhere you look.

Teresa, from the travel blog Brogan Abroad, has visited York Minster and has this advice for anyone who fancies visiting in the future: “Make sure you climb the 275 steps all the way to the top of the Central Tower, the highest point in York, to enjoy the view of the city and beyond. It’ll take your breath away… literally! Don’t forget to stop halfway up to enjoy close-up views of the pinnacles, gargoyles and carvings of the Minster.”

READ ALSO: Future plans: Top tips for a Yorkshire holiday

The Deep

The Deep in Hull

It’s not just treasures from England’s past that Yorkshire has to boast of as there are also modern marvels like The Deep in Hull. This striking structure is a true feat of engineering, with a unique design that has deservedly brought it a lot of attention. The Deep is, in fact, a wonderful aquarium, designed in the shape of a ship, jutting out from Sammy’s Point. This recognisable landmark won’t fail to impress those who pass it by – you can hardly miss it! Commissioned by the National Lottery’s Millennium Commission, The Deep was designed by celebrated British architect Sir Terry Farrell and opened its doors in 2002. A favourite family day out, The Deep will continue impressing once inside with its thousands of aquatic creatures and fascinating sea life experiences.

Marion, from the travel website Love Travelling Blog, has spent time at The Deep – praising the structure as “spectacular”. Inside, she particularly enjoyed seeing the Gentoo penguins: “The Gentoo penguins are one of The Deep’s star attractions and can be viewed from two different levels both above and below the water. The penguins looked so cute waddling around slowly and then enjoying diving into the pool and playing together, swimming around rapidly.”

Castle Howard

Castle Howard

Located 15 miles from York in the civil parish of Henderskelfe, comes a majestic stately home that many will recognise. Castle Howard has been the home of a cadet branch of the noble Howard family for more than 300 years, having been built between 1701 and 1811. This enormous country house will be familiar to many of us for being the fictional "Brideshead" in both the 1981 and 2008 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel ‘Brideshead Revisited’. Today Castle Howard is part of the prestigious Treasure Houses of England collection and its English baroque style of architecture is a true feast for the eyes. There is a treasure trove of art and artefacts awaiting inside and extensive gardens to explore around the house itself.

READ ALSO: Fun facts to know about Yorkshire before you visit

Yorkshire’s iconic buildings and landmarks

- Whitby Abbey

- The Piece Hall

- York Minster

- The Deep

- Castle Howard

While visiting these marvels isn’t possible at the time of writing this article due to the global health crisis, we hope this has been an informative introduction to some of Yorkshire’s most iconic structures. The county certainly has an impressive collection of landmarks and buildings to be proud of.

For more guides and tips, make sure to visit our blog.