Leicester is lively and fascinating and steeped in history. This Midlands city has been inhabited since prehistoric days, and has played host to the Iron Age and Roman settlements full of battles and royal dramas. Leicester recently made headlines around the world when the skeleton of the medieval king Richard III was unearthed beneath a car park in the city.
Leicester’s visitor centres and historic sites are jam-packed with ancient artefacts and state-of-the art displays, and there’s plenty of fun, family-friendly activities and events that help bring the city’s history to life.
Bookmark this rundown of some of the best attractions, grab an Uber, and discover the story of Leicester:
King Richard III Visitor Centre
Leicester is perhaps best known for its connections to the 15th-century English king Richard III. The last king of the House of York, he was killed in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, which also signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster. TheKing Richard III Visitor Centre tells this incredible story through three themes that explore his life, death, and how his remains were found in 2012—complete with scars from his fatal injuries.
Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre
You can bring Richard III’s story to life with a visit to Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre,located at the exact site where he died in battle in 1485. Visitors can imagine the sights and sounds of medieval warfare, and learn how Richard III’s defeat led to the end of the Wars of the Roses, as well as the coronation of Henry Tudor. The on-site visitors centre features interactive and hands-on displays, along with artefacts from the battlefield. You can also take part in walks led by guides in period costume, and may even encounter a reenactment of the battle.
Follow the story of Richard III to its dignified end at Leicester Cathedral, where the king’s remains were finally reinterred and laid to rest in March 2015. The cathedral is surrounded by a picturesque garden located close to the King Richard III Visitor Centre. As well as housing the ill-fated king’s tomb, the cathedral is just a fascinating place to visit, with a history that goes back over 900 years and built on the site of a Roman temple. Visitors can take guided or self-guided tours.
Leicester Abbey and Abbey Park
Leicester’s story is not all royal battles and long-lost kings. There are other—and even older—historic spots to discover. At Leicester Abbey, you can stroll around the remains of 12th-century monastic site. The abbey grounds lie within one of the city’s most attractive green spaces in Abbey Park, which is also an ideal spot for walking and jogging. The park goes back to the Victorian days and features a boating lake, a miniature railway, and a place for pets. Alongside the abbey, you can also see the remains of Cavendish House, a 17th-century mansion.
The Jewry Wall Museum
The Jewry Wall Museum charts Leicester’s history from prehistoric days up until medieval times. The exhibits on show include Stone Age and Iron Age artefacts, beautiful mosaics, Roman armour, and medieval glass. There’s also a programme of events and family activities. Jewry Wall itself is a landmark archaeological structure, which dates from Roman times and once formed part of the city’s public baths. It’s one of the tallest surviving Roman structures in the United Kingdom.
Guided Heritage Walks
Combine history and fresh air with a guided walk. Alongside the famous story of Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth, walks across Leicestershire explore the local heritage through churches, fashion, industry, and historic castles.