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Chester

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History runs through this ancient city, once home to a huge Roman fortress, and the Roman remains, Tudor charms and signs of Victoriana are all still evident within its sandstone walls. 

Just inland from the sea and sitting on several waterways, Chester would have made a clever place for a north-western guard town, and its Roman fortress was indeed formidable. Now a picturesque market city, the city was once a great seafaring port of the middle ages, and the black and white-beamed façade of the Rows shopping streets are a trademark from those times. Boutique cafès and bars now stand where the Romans traded, but old history combines with the city's modern guise: a priest hole is behind a fireplace in one shop; old Roman pillars in another.

For an overview, hardy walkers can climb the 216 steps of the cathedral tower and take in the sweeping, panoramic views. Racegoers fancying a flutter can don hats and head to Britain’s oldest sporting venue; there are lots of events all year round. Not surprisingly for a city on the water, there are several boating activities on offer, like a chilled cruise on the River Dee, spotting local wildlife and taking in the city skyline, while world-renowned Chester Zoo will be the big draw for children, with its huge range of creatures great and small, from komodo dragons to okapi.

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