Europe

Manchester England: The new Cool

The Lowry Centre, Manchester England
Photo credit: Marketing Manchester

There is MUCH more to Manchester than the Manchester United Football Club, which just happens to be (arguably) the most popular sports franchise in the world.

Manchester seems to define British cool. The city, in England’s North Country, is one of Britain’s coolest destinations. This once industrial city has reinvented itself as a truly contemporary metropolis, with modern landmark buildings such as the Lowry Centre, a thriving art and culture scene, and world-class sport. It’s often cited as the world’s first industrialised city, and elements of Manchester’s industrial past can be found as you travel throughout the city. It’s this dramatic mix of old and new that gives Manchester its unique character.

In fact one visitor (from New York) has been quoted as saying “Manchester has and will always have a place in my heart – this vibrant, cosmopolitan city has such a unique character and can-do attitude, you might never want to leave!”

Why?

The city has undergone a rather extensive re-do or make-over. Manchester is now a thriving metropolis, but it’s not hard to spot Manchester’s past. The Central Library, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, is the largest municipal library in the world; and the magnificent Royal Exchange Theatre, formerly the Cotton Exchange, now houses the world’s largest theatre-in-the-round.

The city’s attractions – from the museums and galleries, to sports stadiums and music venues – offer something for everyone.

Manchester once had a negative reputation derived from its industrial past. Things have dramatically changed in the last decade and now the city has a vibrant, exciting air.

The history of Manchester goes back to AD 79, when the Romans built a fort there called Mamucium. The city started to expand at the turn of the 19th century, brought along by a boom in textile manufacturing. The industrialisation of Manchester paralleled the start of the Industrial Revolution, and the city is regarded as the first industrialised city in the world.

Today, Manchester is a centre for the arts, media and higher education. Few cities in the world have embraced social change so heartily as Manchester. From engine of the Industrial Revolution to test-bed of contemporary urban design, the city has no realistic English rival outside of London.

Its pre-eminence expresses itself in various ways, most swaggeringly in the success of Manchester United, the richest football club in the world, but also in a thriving music and cultural scene that has given birth to world-beaters as diverse as the Hallé Orchestra and Oasis. The city’s cutting-edge concert halls, theatres, clubs and café society are boosted by one of England’s largest student populations and a blooming gay community, whose spending power has created a pioneering Gay Village.

Manchester is well worth a visit, even if just for a couple of days, or longer if you plan to use it as a base to explore northern England and North Wales.

Getting to know Manchester

Museum of Science and Industry
Photo credit: Marketing Manchester

If you don’t know where to start exploring Manchester, try an open bus tour from St Peter’s Square. However, whether you’re visiting Manchester for the day or you’ve known the city for years, there’s no better way of exploring the area than with an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide.

Museums and Galleries

Some two million people a year visit Manchester’s award-winning museums and galleries. Not surprising when one learns of the quality of exhibits, the architecture and history of many buildings, and the diversity of subject matter to view and learn. There are some 65 museums and galleries to tour.

Manchester’s museums celebrate the city’s Roman history, rich industrial heritage and its role in the Industrial Revolution, the Textile industry, the Trade Union movement, Women’s suffrage and Football.

Museums in Manchester include the Manchester Museum, which opened to the public in the 1880s and features notable Egyptology and natural history collections, the Manchester Jewish Museum, the Museum of Hatting, which is the UK´s only museum dedicated to the hatting industry and headwear, and the Manchester United Museum & Tour Centre. Manchester United is the world´s most famous football club and the award winning Museum at Old Trafford hosts over 230,000 visitors annually. The Museum tracks the history of the Club from humble beginnings in 1878, showcases the silverware collected along the way, along with the key administrators, Managers and Players both past and present who have helped to create the legend that is Manchester United.

The Museum of Science and Industry, housed in the former Liverpool Road railway station, has a large collection of steam locomotives, industrial machinery and aircraft. The Museum of Transport displays a collection of historic buses and trams. Trafford Park in the neighbouring borough of Trafford is home to the Imperial War Museum North.

Admission to many of Manchester’s museums and galleries are free, including the galleries at the world-famous The Lowry Centre. The works of Stretford- born painter L. S. Lowry, known for his “matchstick” paintings of industrial Manchester and Salford, can be seen in both the city and Whitworth Manchester galleries, and at the Lowry art centre in Salford Quays (in the neighbouring borough of Salford). In the south of the city, the Whitworth Art Gallery displays modern art, sculpture and textiles. The municipally-owned Manchester Art Gallery houses a permanent collection of European painting, and has one of Britain’s most significant collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

Nightlife

Canal Street, Manchester England
Photo credit: Marketing Manchester

The city has no realistic English rival outside of London. Its pre-eminence expresses itself in various ways, most swaggeringly in the success of Manchester United, but also in a thriving music and cultural scene that has given birth to world-beaters as diverse as the Hallé Orchestra and Oasis. The city’s cutting-edge concert halls, theatres, clubs and café society are boosted by one of England’s largest student populations and a blooming gay community, whose spending power has created a pioneering Gay Village.

The centre of the Manchester Gay Village is Canal Street, one of Manchester’s liveliest nightspots. The pedestrianised street, which runs along the west side of the Rochdale Canal, is lined with gay bars and restaurants. At night, and during the day in the warmer months, the street is filled with visitors, often including gay and lesbian tourists from over the world.

So be prepared …

Manchester’s favourite t-shirt slogan sums up the city very well: “And on the sixth day, God created Manchester”. Cocky, cheeky, just the right side of disrespectful …

Much of this confidence is down to the city’s somewhat unlikely role as a focal point for a staggering range of culturally and historically important events.

Manchester is a breathing entity, a living record of the changes that have been wrought across the city over the last two centuries.

Manchester seems like a cool place to spend some time!

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