Until the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, it’s now the 147th largest in Europe. Before the start of the Industrial revolution, Norwich was the capital of England’s most prosperous and populated county.
Norwich gained wealth through the wool trade during the Middle Ages and was able to build many fine churches. Norwich still has more medieval churches than any other city in Western Europe north of the Alps. Norwich's geographical isolation was such that until 1845 when a railway connection was established, it was often quicker to travel to Amsterdam by boat than to London.
There is a wealth of historical architecture in Norwich. The 11th century Norwich Cathedral and the 12th century Castle give an accurate representation of medieval Norwich. 31 churches stand within Norwich of the original 57 built in the Middle Ages. This gave rise to the common regional saying that it had a church for every week of the year, and a pub for every day. Most of the medieval buildings are in the city centre.
In November 2006, Norwich city was voted the greenest city in the United Kingdom and it is currently involved in an initiative to make it a transition town. Norwich has recently been the scene of open discussions in public spaces, known as 'meet in the street', that cover social and political issues. The biggest free Wi-Fi network in the UK opened in Norwich in July 2006. LivCom awards shortlisted Norwich as a finalist in the International Awards for Liveable Communities. It was awarded silver in the small city category.
In the 16th century Flemish refugees fleeing from Spanish persecution introduced the Norwich Canary to England. They brought with them not only advanced techniques in textile working but also their pet canaries, which they began to breed locally. During the 20th century the little yellow bird became a beloved mascot of Norwich City. Norwich City FC, Norwich's football club, has the canary as their emblem.