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The History of Leeds – city centre sites to visit

If you’re interested in the city of Leeds, then you’re in luck – there are plenty of places where you can get a real taste of the ‘olden days’, with many historical sites scattered around the city centre. So next time you fancy a day out in town, why not plan a route and take in some of the fantastic Victorian buildings scattered around?

Here’s a rundown of our favourite Victorian spots that feature in the rich history of Leeds…

City Varieties Music Hall – this world-famous, charming building opened its doors in 1865, under the original name of Thornton’s New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge – quite a mouthful!

Leeds Grand Theatre – opened in 1878 and still one of the most popular entertainment venues in Leeds today, the Grand Theatre is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture.

Kirkgate Market – this covered market is one of the city’s most well-known landmarks and one of the largest examples of its type in the whole of Europe. Its origins date back to the 13th century, but the first permanent building was built much later, in 1857.

Briggate – this street has become synonymous with shopping and city centre style, but when it was first fashioned in the early 13th century, it also provided an actual home to many locals and traders. Many of the area’s original pubs are still standing today and it’s worth stopping off for a pie and a pint in Whitelocks during your historical site-seeing tour.

Art Gallery and Central Library – collectively known as the Municipal Buildings and designed by the same architect who brought the Grand Theatre to life, they were built during the 1880s. The library’s Reading Room had a far-reaching reputation for its stunning beauty and has been converted in more recent years into a cafe called the Tiled Hall – perfect for a cuppa.

Town Hall – just a stone’s throw away from the art gallery and library, this impressive, if slightly imposing, statement of the city’s status was opened by Queen Victoria and played host to many important services, such as courtrooms and the council.

City Museum – from an educational institution, to a place of theatrical entertainment before being put to use as the current location for the Leeds Museum, this grand building was the brainchild of the same architect that brought us the Town Hall and the Corn Exchange – which is our next stop…

Corn Exchange – as the name suggests, this French-influenced building was once a place where traders would gather to sell their corn and it’s still a place of trade today, albeit in a much more modern guise! Awe-inspiring both inside and out, you simply can’t visit Leeds without taking the time to venture here.

This is only a snippet of the incredible history of Leeds, spanning just one era – but certainly enough to keep tourists and locals busy for a day. As you travel on your path to the past, don’t forget to look up above the shop fronts, because you’ll be blown away by the architecture every step of the way.

We recommend parking your car in Trafalgar Street car park and starting your walking tour at the Grand Theatre, which is just a few minute’s walk away – and it’s save you a small fortune in comparison to the other parking options around the city! Enjoy your visit!