Meet the “capital” of the English north: a great history, a very particular identity, and a lively night life.
Over the centuries, this quintessentially industrial city also became an important centre for culture and academic institutions. The University of Manchester stands out not only because of its quality of teaching, but also because it houses the Manchester Museum, known for its Neo-Gothic building and Archaeology and Natural History collections that include Egyptian mummies, corals and dinosaur skeletons. The campus also includes another important institution, the Whitworth Art Gallery.
Built during the 19th Century, the former (Manchester Royal Exchange) was the city’s main trade centre. Today, the building is a Neoclassical and Victorian landmark and houses Manchester’s main theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre.
A striking Gothic religious building located in the city centre, Manchester Cathedral’s origins can be traced back to an old 11th Century Saxon church. It stands out because of its massive nave that includes 30 misericords as well as modern stained glass decorations that replaced older 19th Century works destroyed during the Second World War.
Built over Manchester’s old industrial dock area, the Salford Quays represent the new face of the city. Take in the futuristic architecture, enjoy the programme of The Lowry cultural centre, or visit 81 hectares of studios and sets at MediaCityUK, the BBC’s northern headquarters.
The people’s tongue
One can recognise a Manchester native by his or her speech: this is, after all, the home of Mancunian, an English dialect known for its over-enunciated vowels and creative idiomatic expressions. Many locals, as a matter of identity and pride, don’t make any effort to disguise their accent, which is becoming increasingly popular in the rest of Great Britain anyway!
The King of Sports!
Manchester’s identity and daily life are closely connected to football. Two champion clubs representing the city — Manchester United and Manchester City — are a source of both pride and rivalries. For many people, coming to Manchester and not seeing the football museum at the Old Trafford (Manchester United’s stadium) is nothing less than a sacrilege!
The Town Hall and the Centre
Manchester Town Hall, located in Albert Square, is another Victorian landmark that deserves a guided visit. Close by, you find the Albert Memorial and the Cenotaph, a monument to the victims of the First World War. Nearby, at Saint Peter’s Square, you can visit the Central Library, a Neoclassical building inspired by Rome’s Pantheon. To the north, you can visit the People’s History Museum and learn about the history of English democracy over the last 200 years of Industrial Revolution, wars and changes.
The Old Pub
Stroll by Shambles Square and visit the Old Wellington Inn — dating from the 16th Century, this pub is one of Manchester’s oldest buildings, a fine example of Renaissance era architecture… and a great place to have a cold beer the old fashioned way!
We can travel through most of the city’s history in a single place: Castlefield. Here stands the Roman Fort of Mancunium, a 1st Century settlement that would later become Manchester. We can also find signs of the Industrial Revolution that has forever changed the English way of life: the 18th Century BridgewaterCanal, a water transport route for coal and other products, and the world’sfirst railway, dating from 1830. To find out more, visit the nearby MoSI (the Museum of Science and Industry).
During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the city stood out for its vibrant music scene — “Madchester”. This was the birthplace of essential pop/rock artists from that era, such as Joy Division, New Order,Happy Mondays and The Smiths. This was also the time when the repetitive beats of house music could be heard until dawn. The epicentre of this euphoria, the Hacienda nightclub, is now gone. But the pulse of the Manchester night can still be felt in its central music venues, at the Gay Village and Northern Quarter bars and clubs, and at The Locks, a former industrial and railroad site that has become a lively nightspot.
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