Chester Rows is an individual system of walkways, on two levels, that houses several shops and commercial properties (offices, restaurants, cafés, and meeting rooms).
The Rows can be found in each of the cities four main streets, and are completely unique; no architecture that is exactly the same, or similar, exists anywhere else in the world. The first floor consists a walkway with shops set back from the street, with the second storey overlapping the walkway beneath. The ground floor buildings are usually lower than street level.
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. The first written record of the rows is dated 1293, but evidence shows they were probably built nearly 100 years earlier. Some believe that The Rows were built on top of the debris left after the Roman occupation of Chester.
Due to development from the 17th century onwards, some areas of the Rows have unfortunately been blocked (such as Lower Bridge Street and Watergate Street), but many remain open.
According to the National Monuments Record, The Rows stretches across 14 different buildings. They have become a very popular tourist attractions, and since 1995, access to the area has been greatly improved, such as restricting vehicle access. In 2010, the Department of Culture Media and Sport were considering Chester Rows as an applicant for the United Kingdom Tentative List for World Heritage.