Newcastle upon Tyne belongs to the Tyneside conurbation which is the sixth highest populated conurbation in the UK. The city grew on a Roman settlement area called Pons Aelius but the name of the city was acquired from the wooden castle built by Robert II in 1080. He was William the Conqueror’s eldest son, “Curthose” and the Duke of Normandy. The city was then known as Novum Castellum or New Castle.
Newcastle upon Tyne advanced as an integral hub for the wool trade, later becoming a large area for coal mining. It was during the 16th century the port refined, as did the shipyards further down the river, becoming one of the world’s biggest shipbuilding and ship-repairing centres. However they later dwindled causing closure.
The city has many green spaces including The Town Moor, a green area located north of the city centre, larger than both Hampstead Heath and Hyde Park. The Freemen of Newcastle have the right to graze cattle on it. This right is often acted upon, unlike other cities where similar rights exist. The permission incidentally extends to the pitch of St. James' Park, Newcastle United Football Club's ground. Though this is not exercised, the Freemen do collect rent for the loss of privilege.
Also residing in the city centre lies Leazes Park, established in 1873, due to 3,000 working men in the city petitioning for “ready access to some open ground for the purpose of health and recreation".
Another historical area that can still be clearly seen in Newcastle upon Tyne is a medieval street layout. Many narrow alleys or ‘chares’ continue to exist mainly around the riverside and can only be tracked by foot.
It was Stuart Maconie, a broadcaster and writer, who described Newcastle upon Tyne as the best looking English city. While Sir Nikolaus Berhard Leon Pevsner’s, a German-born British scholar of architecture, reported that one of the finest streets in England was Grey Street. It was also voted in a survey as England’s finest street in 2005 by BBC Radio 4 listeners.
Newcastle upon Tyne was in the top ten of the country's top night spots, and The Rough Guide to Britain placed Newcastle upon Tyne's nightlife as Great Britain's number 1 tourist attraction. In the Tripadvisor Travellers' Choice Destination Awards for European Nightlife destinations, four of the UK's nightspots finished in the top 10; Newcastle upon Tyne was awarded 3rd Place behind London, and Berlin. The city also came in 7th when compared to the rest of the world.
Newcastle upon Tyne is a member of the English Core Cities Group and with Gateshead the Eurocities network of European cities.