The affluent and easygoing city of Norwich (pronounced 'norr-ich') is a rich tapestry of meandering laneways liberally sprinkled with architectural gems – spoils of the city's heyday at the height of the medieval wool boom. Though Norwich's history stretches back well over a thousand years, the city's golden age was during the Middle Ages, when it was England's most important city after London. A magnificent cathedral lords over it all from one end of the city centre and a sturdy Norman castle from the other. Around these two landmarks a series of leafy greens, grand squares, quiet lanes, crooked half-timbered buildings and a host of medieval churches pan out across this compact and artsy city. Meanwhile thriving markets, modern shopping centres, contemporary-art galleries and a young student population give the city an easygoing vibe that makes it one of the most appealing places in East Anglia. Add easy access to the Broads and sweeping beaches along the coast and you have an excellent base for touring the area.