Stunning. That was the opinion of the first visitors inside Clifford's Tower for more than two years.

The Norman castle between the Rivers Ouse and Foss has undergone a £5 million conservation project since it closed at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

More than 2,000 people were expected to go through its door today with another 2,000 tomorrow. They came from far and wide with at least one family coming from the USA.

As many visitors stepped into the open area at the tower's heart they stopped to stare at the transformation.

"I’m absolutely gobsmacked. They have done a really, really good job. It used to be an empty shell," said James Brown-John of Leeds, the very first inside. He had arrived 45 minutes before the doors opened to make sure he was at the front of the queue.

He’s visited the Tower 50 times - and intends to visit it another 50 times.

Site manager Judith Brookes said the transformation had deliberately tried to create a "Wow" moment as people entered.

"We've been closed for two years," she said.

"It's wonderful to see it finally open and so full of visitors. The team has really worked hard ."

Among those in the queue that formed shortly before the doors opened, were John and Judith Willson of Manchester.

They had wanted to visit the Tower when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in York six months ago. On discovering it was closed, they decided to return on the first day it was open.

English Heritage members Phil and Helen Stayte of Evesham deliberately timed their camping trip to York to be at Clifford's Tower on the reopening day.

Mindy and Brian Brown and their children Emerson and Elson, from Indiana, USA, were delighted to discover their family trip to York coincided with the Tower's reopening.

They're in the UK to visit his sister Erica in London - and decided York was the ideal place to explore.

Martin Dean of Pickering, had not visited Clifford's Tower for 50 years. He made sure he was there on opening day - especially as his wife and daughter planned to spend the day looking at wedding dresses.

Several visitors noticed that the roof deck that now covers most of the inner space is slightly higher than the roof walk, meaning that the 360 degree views of York that have always been a major attraction, are better than before.

They also admired the new notice boards that ring the inner space

The roof deck that will, for the first time, protect visitors from the weather, is also a major part of conserving the building for posterity as it keeps rain off the inner walls.

Clifford's Tower is now open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm apart from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.