Leicester is a large, populous, and cosmopolitan city in the heart of England. It stands by the Sor River and is surrounded by dense forests. It's a city where bustling bars, hipster cafes, interactive museums, and modern galleries are situated in Gothic, Victorian, and Tudor buildings. Permanent migrations have made it a genuine "world in one city". Leicester became more famous among tourists when the remains of King Richard III were found here in 2012. And the famous Leicester City club attracts thousands of football fans from around the world every year. A trip to this fascinating and cozy city will certainly not leave any traveler indifferent.
Districts of Leicester
The West End is known as 'the world on one street'. It is home to Turkish cafes, Indian restaurants, and Polish establishments, hipster bars, bookshops, and international food markets. The area is famous for its active nightlife. In the evening, its streets turn into a lively bustling party with a wide variety of bars.
Old Town became world-famous after the remains of King Richard III were found during excavations in the parking lot (where the monastery used to be). The area is home to some of the historical and cultural attractions of the city. They include the Museum of King Richard III, the Medieval Town Hall, and, of course, the resting place of the last Plantagenet King in Leicester Cathedral.
The rest of the area is less interesting to tourists and covers the outskirts of the city and the suburbs.
Population of Leicester
Thanks to the constant migration of residents, about 70 languages and dialects can be heard in the city. In addition to English, eight ethnic languages are spoken in Leicester: Gujarati (16%), Punjabi (3%), Somali (4%), Urdu (2%), and others.
At the end of the VII century, the restored city became the residence of the Anglo-Saxon bishop and gradually developed. But unlike the Roman times, all buildings were made of wood and had straw roofs. In the IX century, the Danes invaded England, and by 877 captured Leicester. But already in 918, the British returned it and started to build stone houses. After 225 years, the Abbey of Saint Mary de Pratis was built, the ruins of which are now part of the famous public park.
The production of wool and leather was the primary industry in medieval Leicester. A market was opened once a week, and an annual fair was held, bringing together buyers and sellers from across the county of Leicestershire.
In 1500, about 3000 people were living in Leicester. However, the city was repeatedly affected by plague outbreaks at that time. In 1545, a gymnasium was founded there.
After 100 years, a civil war broke out between the parliament and the king, whose army quickly sieged the city. But the parliament won anyway.
Active construction of new factories and handicraft workshops marked the next centuries. By the end of the XIX century, the first public library had appeared in Leicester, a new town hall had been built, and the first telephone exchange on Granby Street had been opened. In 1894, some of the city's streets were first illuminated with electricity.
In 1919, Leicester was officially granted the status of a city. It escaped heavy bombardment during World War II and continued to develop its primary industries. Gradually, it became a multicultural city due to the active migrations of Asians, Dutch, and Irishmen.
In 2012, during the archeological excavations in the former conventual cathedral, the remains of the last king of England killed in battle were found (the body of the king had been considered to be lost for five centuries). After the identification, a five-day mourning event took place in the city, during which the actor Benedict Cumberbatch (a descendant of the king) read a poem dedicated to his ancestor. Richard III is resting in Leicester Cathedral.
The best time to visit Leicester
The Diwali (Festival of Lights), the most significant holiday outside India, is popular in Leicester. Every year, at the end of October, it attracts thousands of visitors not only from the UK but also from all over the world. For many citizens, it has grown from a religious event into a vibrant and colorful festival that symbolizes the victory of good over evil. All participants of the festival are focused on the mighty and ruthless fire.
What should a tourist do in Leicester?
- Find out what it's like to live under zero gravity in the National Space Center, built in 2001. It is the largest museum in the UK and, at the same time, an educational center with many themed exhibitions on astronomy, and planetariums. It is the only exposition of space rockets placed in a vertical position in the world.
- Watch a football match at King Power Stadium. Leicester City Football Club is known for three victories in the Football League Cup and the absolute championship in England. In its stadium, you can not only attend the game, but also go on a tour, drop by a souvenir shop, and take pictures in the team's changing room.
- Visit Leicester Cathedral, home to Richard III, the King of England from the York dynasty. The temple is made in Gothic style with two chapels and a spire, 67 m high. If you want to get a better acquaintance with the life story of Richard III, you should read the famous play of the same name by Shakespeare, as well as visit the themed museum, located in front of the cathedral.
- Walk in Abbey Park, which is located by the Sor river, two kilometers from the city. It is named after the medieval monastery (Leicester Abbey), which is now only left in ruins. There is also a miniature railway, a cafe, and a lake with boats in the park. It is ideal for a short holiday away from the city's troubles.
- Feel like being on board a luxury airplane at Gate 38. It's a nightclub and bar with airplane seats and windows all over the walls. The venue is close to the university, so there are always a lot of young people.
- Enjoy the local culture at Leicester Market. It is the largest market in Europe and has repeatedly been voted the best in entire England. It's over 700 years old. It mainly sells locally-produced fresh goods and has everything you might need for a dinner party or as a souvenir on its counters.
- Have a refreshing cocktail on The Cookie and The Attic terrace. It's a vibrant music center and bar with live music or a comedian performing with a stand-up every night.
- Check out the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery. It features works by outstanding British artists, ancient tables with petroglyphs, and mummies from Ancient Egypt.
- Try curry at one of the famous restaurants. Leicester remains a great fan of Indian cuisine. This trend was established back in the epoch of the colonial exploration of India when the first unknown spices and products were brought into the country. Today, there are more establishments in the city serving traditional Indian cuisine than English restaurants.