Boasting a rich industrial heritage, a world-class football club and a thriving music scene, Manchester is widely regarded as the UK’s second city.
Renowned as the world’s first industrialised city, Manchester was famed for the central role it played during the industrial revolution. Nicknamed Cottonopolis because of its vast number of cotton mills, the city was known internationally for its cotton spinning and textile manufacture. Evidence of the city’s industrial past can be seen by visiting the vast canal network or by looking at the 19th century mills that are dotted around the city.
Manchester’s skyline is a curious mix of old and new. One of its most striking buildings is the futuristic Beetham Tower, which is 169 metres high and the tallest mixed-use building in Europe. Manchester’s Hilton Hotel and its chic bar, Cloud 23, occupy the first 23 floors of the building and the remaining 25 floors are luxury apartments. This building contrasts starkly with the city’s Town Hall, which is a spectacular example of Victorian gothic revival architecture. Built in 1877 by Alfred Waterhouse, the Town Hall is now a grade I listed building but continues to serve the people of Manchester.
A cultural city, Manchester has some wonderful museums and art galleries such as Urbis, the Imperial War Museum in the North and the Museum of Science and Industry. With an array of fantastic theatres, the city presents a variety of theatrical delights from big-budget musicals to dance and new work. It also possesses a number of cinemas including The Filmworks, which is a modern 20-screen complex with Imax, and The Cornerhouse, which focuses mainly on cult and independent film.
With Oasis, Happy Mondays, The Fall, Joy Division, New Order, The Inspiral Carpets and, of course, Morrissey and The Smiths, Manchester’s music scene has some great credentials. The city’s impressive musical history continues to inspire and you’ll see some good local bands at venues such as The Night and Day Café and The Roadhouse.
Whatever your taste, you can do some first-class shopping in central Manchester. It was the first city outside London to gain a Selfridges and Harvey Nichols soon followed. King Street has stores by most of the major designer brands and you’ll find branches of most high-street stores in the Arndale Centre. For some serious bargains and great vintage or alternative shopping, visit Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter. A wonderful Christmas treat is the annual European Christmas Market in Albert Square. You can enjoy a little taste of Vienna and a lot of mulled wine at this lovely market, which never fail to impress.
Sport in the city certainly isn’t limited to Manchester United. The city hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002, which spawned a new stadium called Sportcity. Sportcity now hosts large outdoor concerts, athletics events and is the home ground of Manchester City FC. The city also has a world-class cricket ground, which is home to Lancashire County Cricket Club.
With hundreds of restaurants and bars, the food and drink in Manchester is first-class. It is particularly good for International cuisine with Chinatown, close to Piccadilly Gardens, offering fantastic Chinese food. Fans of Indian food should visit Rusholme in South Manchester to sample one of the many wonderful restaurants on their ‘Curry Mile’.
Proud of its rich heritage yet continually moving forward, Manchester is a unique city that you cannot fail to be astounded by.