Cheshire’s thriving center is Chester, a city similar in some ways to Shrewsbury, though it has many more black-and-white half-timber buildings (some built in Georgian and Victorian times), and its medieval walls still stand. History seems more tangible in Chester than in many other ancient cities, as modern buildings haven’t been allowed to intrude on the center. A negative result of this perfection is that Chester has become a favorite tour bus destination, with gift shops, noise, and crowds aplenty.
Chester has been a prominent city since the late 1st century, when the Roman Empire expanded north to the banks of the River Dee. The original Roman town plan is still evident: the principal streets, Eastgate, Northgate, Watergate, and Bridge Street, lead out from the Cross—the site of the central area of the Roman fortress—to the four city gates. The partly excavated remains of what is thought to have been the country’s largest Roman amphitheater lie to the south of Chester’s medieval castle.