Manchester is located in the northwest of England and is often referred to as the capital of the north. Manchester, like Bradford and Leeds, was a stronghold of the textile industry in the 19th century, becoming one of the richest cities in Britain. Since the 1990s, Manchester, with a population of about half a million, has focused on service sectors, especially cultural tourism.
The metropolis is world-famous for its two soccer clubs, United and City, and has developed into an attractive and bustling cultural and trendy city. Many urban development measures with modern buildings and squares have definitely changed the cityscape of Manchester in a positive way. The European Union awarded Manchester as a major city that has managed the structural change best. In the soccer stronghold you can find many museums and galleries. Manchester has many restaurants, bars and pubs to offer and is known for its nightlife. Like Birmingham, the metropolis has also positioned itself as a shopping stronghold. East of the center is Chinatown, one of the largest Asian neighborhoods in the United Kingdom. There is also an Indian district.
Tip 1: Town Hall
The impressive Manchester City Hall is composed of the Town Hall and the Town Hall Extension and is located in Albert Square. The architect Alfred Waterhouse designed the Town Hall, which was completed in 1887, in the neo-Gothic style and with great attention to detail. Statues adorn the exterior of the listed neo-Gothic structure.
Characteristic of the Town Hall is the 85-meter high clock tower in the center of the building, which contains 24 bells. The largest of these bells is called Great Abel and was named after the town’s mayor at the time, Abel Heywood. The halls inside the Town Hall are impressive in their size and ornamentation. In the imposing Great Hall, for example, one can admire twelve murals by Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown illustrating important points in Manchester’s history.
After architect Emanuel Vincent Harris finished building Central Library 2 next to Town Hall in 1934, he was awarded the contract for the planned Town Hall Extension. This extension was to house several of the ever-expanding city offices. The new part of the Town Hall was finally opened in 1938 by King George VI – an inset stone still commemorates this event today.
Just like the older part of the Town Hall, the extension with its heavy masonry and pointed roof is in the neo-Gothic style. The two buildings of the Town Hall are connected by two bridges.
Among the highlights of the interior are the stained glass windows by the English artist George Kruger Gray.
Tip 2: Manchester Cathedral
Manchester Cathedral is located next to The Triangle and has had an eventful past: built in 1215, the church has been expanded, looted, damaged and restored over the centuries. For example, one of the important events in the recent history of the Gothic-style Cathedral took place in 1847. At that time, the diocese of Manchester of the Church of England was founded and the church, then known as a collegiate church, was elevated to the status of a cathedral: this gave Manchester the right to officially call itself a city in 1853. The so-called city charter was traditionally granted to places that could boast a cathedral.
Nowadays, the cathedral offers other services besides worship. A varied educational program with workshops enables children and young people to get in touch with the Christian faith. Those interested in history will enjoy the cathedral’s considerable archives, whose collection includes documents dating back to 1421.
Of particular interest in the cathedral are the so-called misericords: these ornate wooden boards were placed on the underside of the folding seats in churches in the Middle Ages and offered churchgoers some rest – the faithful could lean against the boards while standing for long periods during services.
Tip 3: Chinatown
Chinatown is one of the sights in Manchester that should be on your to-do list.
If you come from Nicholas Street and turn into Faulkner Street, you will be greeted by the Paifang gate decorated with Chinese characters. Walking through the gate, it feels like entering another world – Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants advertise the most delicious food and small supermarkets sell all kinds of goods. By the way, the Chinatown in Manchester is the third largest in Europe, so you should not miss a little stroll.
From Chinatown, you can continue on to Canal Street, for example. The street is the center of the so-called Manchester Gay Village directly on the Rochdale Canal. Several bars and clubs invite you to party here, especially in the evening hours.
Tip 4: Salford Quays
At Salford Quays, opposite the Imperial War Museum 33 North, lies the building complex “The Lowry,” which opened in 2000 and houses galleries and theaters as well as space for various events.
This large-scale architectural project was dedicated to the Manchester-born painter Lawrence Stephen Lowry, whose paintings mostly depict life in the industrial north of England.
It is no coincidence that The Lowry is located on a quay in Salford: This town, which is part of the county of Greater Manchester, was a thriving area in the 19th century with its docks and contributed significantly to Manchester’s economic rise.
The building, designed by the architects, has a triangular floor plan and from the outside resembles a ship. The metal and glass exteriors reflect the sky and waterways that surround the building on two sides. However, a view of The Lowry is particularly impressive in the evening – that’s when the lights come on at The Lowry and the building complex glows from within.
A promenade leads around the entire building, so visitors can enjoy the beautiful view and easily explore all parts of the building.
Inside The Lowry, three gallery areas await the visitor, which, in addition to exhibitions of British and international artists, naturally focus on the works of Lawrence Stephen Lowry. The Lyric and the Quays, the two theaters at The Lowry, host a variety of events: Dramas, comedies, operas, ballets, concerts, and children’s theater are permanent fixtures on the schedule.
In addition to the interesting events and the impressive view over the Quays, The Lowry also attracts visitors with book and souvenir stores as well as bars and restaurants. Admission is free, but guided tours cost extra and must be booked in advance.
Tip 5: Old Trafford
Welcome to the second largest soccer stadium on the British Isles, Old Trafford, the home ground of Manchester United.
The stadium, which seats around 75,650 fans, hosts Manchester United’s home games as well as international matches of the English national team and top international matches. If you have always wanted to visit the Theatre of Dreams and take an exclusive look behind the scenes of the successful soccer club, then the Old Trafford Stadium Tour is perfect for you. For a fee of the equivalent of about €29, you can take part in an interesting, approximately 70-minute guided tour of the stadium, walk through the players’ tunnel, take a look inside the dressing rooms and take a seat in the press room. Also included in the price of the tour is a visit to the Manchester United Museum directly in the stadium.