Visiting Newcastle upon Tyne

Visiting Newcastle upon Tyne

For most travellers to the UK, Newcastle upon Tyne is above all the gateway to Scotland: it is here, in England’s northernmost city, that planes land and ferries dock to take travellers to Scotland.

Newcastle itself is more of a city of transit, a starting point that is chosen for a specific purpose and not necessarily because Newcastle is supposed to be particularly beautiful. But that does the city an injustice. Those who take a little more time to explore Newcastle will be surprised at what the city has to offer its attentive visitors.

Newcastle upon Tyne is a lively student city in which modernity and history collide uninhibitedly, a city that is not ashamed of the traces of its past and creates skilful contrasts with ultra-modern buildings. Around 1,800 years ago, where we find the modern city today was the site of the Roman fortress of Pons Aelli, one of the fortifications along Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the line separating Roman-populated England from the wild, untamed north, today’s Scotland. Nothing remains of the Roman fortifications in Newcastle today. The oldest buildings in the city centre date from the time of the Norman settlement: for example, you can visit the remains of the 13th century city wall and Saint Nicholas Cathedral (14th century). The River Tyne, to which the city owes its name, flows right through the city and is spanned by seven bridges.

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Newcastle upon Tyne in the spirit of progress

Each of the seven bridges is characteristic of the time in which it was built. Robert Stephenson, the son of the famous railway engineer George Stephenson, designed the High Level Bridge in the mid-19th century, which is a magnificent work of steel and stone and reflects the spirit of optimism in the early days of the railway. It almost seems too big and mighty for the city. The Tyne Bridge, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century, is more discreet and less massive. Its arch dominates the cityscape and gives an idea of the importance Newcastle upon Tyne must have had at the time it was built. However, neither of the two bridges mentioned can compete with the postmodern Millennium Bridge. This extraordinary structure is a link to the city’s engineering past and initially appears quite inconspicuous.

However, when a ship approaches the bridge, it can be rotated around its longitudinal axis by its pivot points and thus opened very elegantly to allow the ship to pass. The “Blinking Eye”, as the bridge is called by the inhabitants of Newcastle upon Tyne, proves that this city still retains the important cultural and economic status it acquired in the 11th century.

Newcastle upon Tyne: coal and culture

The Millennium Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne can be rotated around its longitudinal axis through its pivot points.

Coal and woollen fabrics were later exported all over the world from here. In the 16th century, a saying arose that has the same meaning as “carrying owls to Athens”: “bringing coal to Newcastle”. Newcastle owed its wealth and prosperity to coal, which can still be seen in the cityscape today. In the 20th century, another important industry came to Newcastle upon Tyne in the form of shipbuilding.

The whole city was characterised by progress and when Robert Stephenson had the world’s first steam locomotive factory built here, the city’s economic power was once again confirmed. Today, Newcastle is as modern as ever, a vibrant city in which art and culture also play a special role. Museums and art galleries offer visitors just as much variety as the old buildings in the city centre.

Of particular note here are the Biscuit Factory in the east of the city, very close to the remains of Hadrian’s Wall, and the Laing Art Gallery, which also exhibits works by Rembrandt, van Gogh and Renoir and therefore enjoys a special reputation among art lovers from all over the world. You should also keep your eyes peeled as you stroll through the city: Worth seeing are the Greys Monument in the city centre, the old castle, a building that looks exactly like a mediaeval knight’s castle, with towers and battlements and mighty walls, the Black Gate, the remains of the mediaeval city fortifications, and the old city wall.

When the sun goes down in the evening, Newcastle upon Tyne shows yet another face: the city is a metropolis of experiences for party animals. On the list of the world’s best party metropolises, Newcastle came eighth, ranking even higher than London. It’s hard to believe that the city in the north of England has a similar reputation to Las Vegas and Rio de Janeiro. So Newcastle is a great place to start or end a holiday in England (or Scotland) with a wild party night. In one way or another, everyone gets their money’s worth in this city: history buffs, culture vultures, art connoisseurs, bon vivants and party animals. So perhaps plan a longer stay in Newcastle upon Tyne on your next visit to the island. You certainly won’t regret it.

Other places of interest in Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle upon Tyne is located just before the English-Scottish border in northern England and is therefore very close to Hadrian’s Wall, which was built in the 2nd century by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to protect the Roman colony from the British, who had retreated to the north and west of the island. Hadrian’s Wall stretches across the entire width of the island, but is no longer recognizable everywhere. Nevertheless, a multi-day hike along the wall is a great way to experience Great Britain in all its diversity.

From Newcastle, excursions to the surrounding national parks are also recommended. Both the Northumberland National Park and the North Yorkshire Moors National Park entice visitors with their scenic beauty and unspoilt nature. A trip to the old city of York, which is teeming with ghost stories, is just as worthwhile as a trip to the other side of the border, to the Scottish Borderlands. The Scottish capital Edinburgh is also only a 2-hour drive from Newcastle upon Tyne. Newcastle is an excellent starting point and base between the two countries.

Travelling to Newcastle upon Tyne

Travelling to Newcastle upon Tyne is the least of the problems: the industrial and transport metropolis has excellent transport connections all over the world and is a destination on many trips to the island anyway. From Germany, you can fly from Düsseldorf to Newcastle or use the airports in Amsterdam, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Prague. Alternatively, you can fly to London, Manchester or Liverpool. The journey from London to Newcastle by train takes just under 3 hours. From Manchester you also need just under 3 hours to Newcastle upon Tyne and from Liverpool you should allow around 4 hours. Of course, you can also hire a car for England at the respective airport and drive to Newcastle.

If you are travelling to Newcastle upon Tyne by ferry and then want to explore the country in your own car, the connection between Amsterdam (Ijmuiden) and Newcastle is a good option.

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