Although officially named Newcastle upon Tyne, this area is usually simply referred to as Newcastle. As its formal name implies, it is situated along the banks of the River Tyne in North East England.
It is home to a diversity of nationalities, social classes and language groups and is one of the more densely populated cities in England and the United Kingdom (which comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside at night.
The Romans were the first formal inhabitants of the area now known as Newcastle. This settlement was called Pons Aelius, and it was founded during the 100's of our Common Era (CE). All the Romans had rushed back to Italy to defend their homeland by 410 CE, leaving Newcastle to be incorporated into Northumbria, which was a particularly powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It was then called Monkchester. This area came under a series of attacks and experienced almost complete desolation. But, when the son of William the Conqueror (Robert Curthose) erected a new castle there in 1080, the town came to be known by the Latin words for New Castle, Novum Castellum. This city was the official fortress of the whole of northern England during the Middle Ages.
In 1530, all shipment of coal was moved to Newcastle. This led to a massive boom for the area's industry, infrastructure and general development
Most of the locals got work in the shipping and / or coal industries. Two centuries later, the printing industry had emerged as a highly successful and lucrative one. It produced a fabulous array of literary works and made them available to the readers and learners of England. Still, shipping and coal remained major players in the Newcastle industry. In fact, in the 1800's, it was shipbuilding and the associated engineering that boosted the overall economy and prosperity of the area. Indeed, Newcastle played an integral role in the Industrial Revolution in England. Today, its economy is based on services and the retail industry. One of the biggest shopping complexes in all of the United Kingdom is the Eldon Square Shopping Centre, found in Newcastle.
Modern day Newcastle is still characterised by the narrow alleyways of Medieval times, giving it a charm all its own. Buildings dating back as far as the 15th Century are still intact, telling intriguing stories of years past. Several of the streets exhibit such heritage and charm that they have won national awards. In 2007, The Daily Telegraph voted Newcastle the Best City in the North. Its history, culture and vibrant ambience have made Newcastle a popular and successful tourist attraction in its own rights.
Some of the must-see sights and activities include: .Black Gate .Blackfriars .Castle Keep .Chinatown .Church of All Saints .Earl Grey's Monument .Exhibition Park .Gibside .Grainger Street .Jesmond Dene Mill .Leazes Park .Newcastle Discovery Museum .Queen Victoria Memorial 'st James' Park .The Byker Wall (on UNESCO's list of outstanding 20th Century buildings) .The Hancock Museum .The Museum of Science and Engineering .The Town Moor .Trinity Maritime Centre .Tyne Bridges .Vine Lane Market