Colchester is the largest of all the settlements in the County of Essex in England. It lays claim to being the oldest settlement in the whole of Britain and is certainly the oldest recorded Roman town in England. Because of its history, there are lots of attractions in Colchester, which you can explore when you visit the town. In this article, we look at just a few which may be worth considering visiting when you visit Colchester.
1. Balkerne Gate – The most complete Roman gateway in the country and it is thought to have been built in 55 AD. It was originally actually the main way that visitors would enter the town but it’s gradually been turned into a triumphal arch. Then after this, the gateway was merged into the town’s walls then in 465 AD it got blocked up to help improve the town’s defence system. It was rediscovered about a hundred years ago which is why it’s been so well preserved.
2. Charter Market – The oldest recorded market in the United Kingdom has been run here for more than 800 years now. The market was granted a Royal Charter in 1189 by King John and this is where its name originates from. You can still find a market at Charter Market twice a week, on Fridays and Saturdays and there is a wider than normal variety of goods as no two stalls can sell the same items.
3. Colchester Castle – Altough “only” dating back to Norman times, this castle was built on the same ground as the Temple to Claudius in Roman times. However, the temple was destroyed in 60AD as part of Queen Boudica’s campaign to force the Romans to leave Britain. The Normans re-used the stone to build the castle which means the fabric of the building dates back to the Romans.
The castle boasts one of the oldest and largest of all castle keeps to be built in Europe and inside the walls of the castle there are lots of things to see and do. There are a number of exhibitions in the castle, tracing more than two thousand years of British history and there are displays that one can interact with as well. Whilst touring the castle you can learn more about Matthew Hopkins the Witch finder General who used it as a jail at the times that the trials were taking place.
4. Colchester Zoo – One of Europe’s finest zoos located a short drive from Colchester. Located in around sixty acres of English countryside the zoo has more than 200 species of animal for you to look at. Along with elephants in Elephant Kingdom, there are the chimpanzees in Chimp World to enjoy. Plus you will find other parts of the zoo just as enthralling. As with any zoo, you’ll almost certainly find yourself spending lots of time here.
Check out this list of Colchester accommodation for your next visit.