Monk Bar is the most grand and elaborate of the four main gatehouses (or 'bars') that are dispersed along the City Walls of York, the other 3 being Bootham Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. The purpose of these 'Bars' was as toll booths and to restrict traffic during medieval times, not to mention they were very useful as defenses for the city during times of war or upheaval.
Monk Bar was built in the early 1300's as a replacement for the 12th century Muneca Gate, and has four storeys, each of which is capable of being defended individually. The front of the Bar has an arch supporting a gallery, which included several narrow 'murder holes', through which arrows could be fired and boiling water thrown down upon the enemy.
Monk Bar and the other three gatehouses used to have barbicans (towers) on their frontage, however these were demolished in 1825. Monk Bar still boasts having the only working portcullis in York, which remained in use all the way up until 1970, and which still remains as a feature today. The rooms above the gateway entrance have seen many different occupations throughout the years - as stately homes as well as being used as a 16th century jail for unruly Catholics.
These days, Monk Bar is home to the Richard III museum, with informative exhibitions on the life of Richard III, and entry is £3 for adults, £2 for students and children under 16 go free.