The Rows at Chester are a unique series of two tired and mostly black and white half-timbered buildings joined with long galleries used as shopping arcades. They consist of covered walkways at the first floor behind which are entrances to shops while at street level is another set of shops and other premises. Rows were built in the four main streets leading out from Chester Cross which are Watergate Street, Northgate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street.
Dating from the medieval era, the Rows may have been built on top of rubble remaining from the ruins of Roman buildings, but their origin is still subject to speculation. In some places the continuity of the Rows has been blocked by enclosure or by new buildings, but in others modern buildings have retained the Rows in their designs. Undercrofts or “crypts” were constructed beneath the buildings in the Rows. The undercrofts were in stone while most of the buildings in the Rows were in timber.
Today the premises on the street and Row levels are used for a variety of purposes; most are shops, but there are also offices, restaurants, cafés, and meeting rooms. Chester Rows are one of the city’s main tourist attractions.