By Zaithyn Galter Published 06/8/2007 | Travel

Considered by many to be one of the last great provincial cities, Norwich offers visitors and residents a wealth of art, food, culture and excitement all within the confines of a compact and historic city.

Norwich is a city with a rich history and heritage that dates back to the Norman conquests and beyond. In fact during the middle ages Norwich was one of the most important cities in the country, second only to London. This was due in a large part to the wealth of the wool trade in East Anglia and resulted in the city being a centre for weaving, with an international reputation for its cloth.

However with the advent of the industrial revolution, which required fast flowing water and coal to power the mills, workhouses and looms, Norfolk and Norwichs reputation as one of the major cities in the UK began to wane.

Today however the city has never been more vibrant, as the mix of modern and historic buildings has enabled Norwich to transform itself into one of the most popular city break destinations in the UK.

The city has a great range of historic buildings, with castles, cathedrals and reputedly a church for every week of the year. The castle, which dominates the skyline is one of the oldest buildings in the city, and is a great destination to discover the history of the city. Alongside the castle Norwich cathedral is definitely worth a visit, as is the close surroundings of the magnificent building, which boosts lawns and gardens where people come to relax.

The other mediaeval area of Norwich is Tombland, which although it is next the Cathedral doesnt derive its name from graves, rather the old Anglo-Saxon word for market. This leads to one of Norwichs most famous streets, Elm Hill, which is a fantastic example of mediaeval buildings, now filled with antique and bric-a-brac shops.

If you are looking for something a bit more lively then the nightlife in the city has improved enormously over the last 5-10 years and has a growing reputation for being a great place for an evening out and apparently a pub for every day of the week!

The city has a great range of bars and nightclubs. Venues like the UEA and Waterfront offer some of the UKs best bands, and alternative nightlife. While the Riverside and Prince of Wales areas of Norwich are where the liveliest nightlife can be experienced, with a range of clubs and bars that cater for all tastes.

A slightly more refined café and bar culture is to be found in the Tombland area of Norwich, where you can sit out in the evening and enjoy a meal and a drink. The city also has a good reputation for food, and like many UK destinations offers everything from Sushi to Indian, via burgers, tapas and trendy gastro-pub dining.

Norwich has recently been voted one the of the top five UK retail destinations. In the last few years the city has added a second major shopping centre, Chapelfield, to complement the Castle Mall and Gentlemens Walk, where the latest fashions can be found. Alongside the major national retailers you can find in any major city, Norwich also has a great range of quirky streets with specialist shops, with Lower Goat Lane and the covered market definitely worth a visit.

For sports fans there is only one real major attraction, and thats Carrow Road, the home of the Canaries. The club plays in the Championship and offers a real family atmosphere, with tickets available via the football clubs site and box office.

For more information about Norwich, please visit the dedicated "Norwich" section on the official site for Tourism In Norfolk.