The vibrant city of Newcastle has seen a great deal of investment and redevelopment in recent years, especially in the Quayside area. Its two famous bridges, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the iconic Tyne Bridge span the mighty Tyne, linking with the borough of Gateshead. The region takes its name from the "new castle", built over the site of an old Roman fort. The ramparts of the current fortifications, built in 1080, provide panoramic views over the river and the city's many bridges.

Bridges over the Tyne at Newcastle Bridges over the Tyne at Newcastle (by Samantha Rickelton CC0)

Near the riverside, the city still retains much its original medieval street layout, with many narrow alleys or 'chares'. From the 15th to the 19th centuries the Quayside and adjoining streets were the centre of Newcastle's commercial and civic life. In contrast, the sweeping elegance of Newcastle's late Georgian town centre is a wonder to behold. The city buildings were designed by John Dobson and Richard Grainger, in a Classical style. With gently curving streets that show to great advantage the graceful colonnaded facades of their buildings. The 133 ft Grey's Monument (in Grey Street), commemorates Earl Grey (1764-1845), long time MP for Northumberland who became Prime Minister in the 1830s. The nearby Eldon Square (built by Dobson and Grainger in 1825) was demolished in the 60s to become the focal point of a vast shopping and entertainment complex, and is now the largest city centre shopping complex in Britain.

Dobson's porticoed Central Station is a masterpiece of architecture and one of the greatest monuments to the railway age. Nearby, in Westgate Road, stands a statue of George Stephenson (1781-1848), the northern railway pioneer born in Wylam just west of the city. Built round a quadrangle with lawns, fountains and pools is Newcastle's Civic Centre, which opened in 1968.

Directly above the elliptical Council Chamber is a square tower surmounted by a copper-clad lantern and decorated with castles and sea horses (representations from the city's coat of arms). The tower contains a carillon of 25 bells, which play traditional tunes during the day.

The Guildhall, located in the medieval part of the city, near the quayside, was built in 1658. It contains a 17th-c courtroom and a Merchant Adventurers' Court. Merchants once lived in the timbered 18th-c houses that still stand nearby in Sandhill. The Customs House dates from 1766. At the corner of Sandgate and Milk Market, a granite fountain marks the spot where John Wesley preached in 1742. A traditional street market is still held on the Quayside every Sunday.

Newcastle is a city of two cathedrals. St Nicholas has a rare 15th-c "crown spire" surmounted by an open lantern supported by flying buttresses. The interior is mainly 14th-c with fine woodwork and monuments. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Mary was built to a Gothic style in 1844, by Augustus Pugin.

Along with its fine architecture, the city has several museums and art galleries to suit a wide range of interests. Including the Hancock Museum of natural history, the Laing Art Gallery, the Museum of Antiquities, the Discovery Museum and the ultra modern Centre for Life.

Tourist Information Centre:

132 Grainger Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5AF - Tel: 0191 2778000

Content by Steve B

Places of Interest to Visit in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Centre for Life

A hands-on interactive Science Centre, providing an action-packed day out that takes you on a journey to the beginning of life and back again, from single-celled organisms to dinosaurs. Includes a motion simulation ride, theatre presentations, interactive exhibits, 3D film shows and other virtual interactive activities.

Opening times: Mon-Sat 10am - 6pm, Sun 11am - 6pm Admission Charge
Location: Times Square, Newcastle. NE1 4EP - Tel: 0191243 8210 Website

Museum of Antiquities

Exhibits a wide range of artifacts from prehistoric times to Roman and Anglo-Saxon, one of the largest and oldest collections in Britain. The building also houses the principal museum for Hadrian's Wall, who's collection includes models of the wall, life-size Roman soldiers plus a reconstruction of the Temple of Mithras, found at Carrawburgh beside the wall.

Opening times: daily (ex Sun) 10am - 5pm Free Entry
Location: Newcastle University campus NE1 7RU - Tel: 0191 222 7849

Castle Keep

The first bridge over the Tyne was built by the Romans, who also erected a fort to guard it. This was replaced by a wooden fort and then later by a stone castle in the early 12th-c. Only the Keep, the Black Gate (a fortified gatehouse) and parts of the south wall remain. The 82 ft high Keep was restored in 1811 by John Dobson and was used as the county gaol until 1812. The City Walls were built during the reigns of Edward I and II, portions of which have been restored.

Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am - 5pm, Sun 12am - 5pm. Admission Charge
Location: Castle Keep, Castle Garth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ. Tel: 0191 2327938 - Website

Great North Museum: Hancock

A natural history museum dedicated to the 19th-c zoologist John Hancock, who's extensive bird collection is on display. Other exhibits include specimens of plants and animals brought back to England by the explorer Captain Cook, a planetarium, mummies from Ancient Egypt and a life-size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton.

Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am - 5pm, Sun 2pm - 5pm Free Entry
Location: Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4PT - Tel: 0191 2226765 - Website

Laing Art Gallery

Built in 1901 in a fine Edwardian Baroque style, it contains an important collection of art and sculpture. Its collection of oil-paintings includes works by Constable, Landseer, Reynolds and Lowry. Among the water-colours are works by Rowlandson, Turner and Gainsborough.

Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am - 5pm, Sun 2pm - 5pm. Free Entry
Location: New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AG - Tel: 0191 2327734

Discovery Museum

The past achievements of Newcastle are recorded in an impressive display of exhibits from the region's shipbuilding heritage to the many local inventions which changed the world. An interesting exhibition tells the story of the many bridges over the Tyne, through photography, art and audiovisual displays.

Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am - 5pm, Sun 2pm - 5pm. Free Entry
Location: Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA - Tel: 0191 2326789

Map of Newcastle Upon Tyne

North East England

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Towns & Cities in Tyne & Wear

Gateshead, Houghton le Spring, Jarrow, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, South Shields, Sunderland, Whitley Bay, Washington

Attractions in Tyne & Wear

Arbeia Roman Fort | Bede's world | Bowes Railway Centre | Baltic Centre | Gibside | Shipley Art Gallery | Sunderland Museum | Wildfowl And Wetlands Trust


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