Exchange Square, Manchester
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Exchange Square, Manchester

© Creative Commons / BinaryApe

Manchester travel guide

A city of swagger and spirit, heritage and hedonism, fashion and football, Manchester warrants its billing as England’s “capital of the north”. Best known for its industrial past and a near-peerless musical and sporting legacy, it has been transformed in recent decades to become somewhere defined by creative talent, fresh ideas and an international outlook.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Manchester was arguably the centre of the British music scene, spawning The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and Oasis. But its bubble was shockingly blown apart in 1996 when the IRA detonated a bomb in the city centre, the largest ever on British soil.

Huge sums of money were subsequently pumped into rebuilding Manchester. New city and canalside developments sprung up and it went from strength to strength. Notable modern projects include Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium (initially built to host the Commonwealth Games) and the 47-storey Beetham Tower, the UK’s tallest building outside of London.

Elsewhere, eye-catching exhibition venue Urbis now plays home to the National Football Museum, while the new MediaCity UK complex on the banks of the Ship Canal has welcomed many of the BBC’s operations.

The city, which was at the forefront of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, now has a deserved reputation as a great place to shop, drink and eat. Many of the city’s most fashionable watering holes and eateries can be found in the Canal Street area, the Printworks district and the bohemian Northern Quarter.

Meanwhile, Manchester’s diverse ethnic mix is leaving its stamp on the city. The St Patrick’s Day parade is one of the largest in Europe, and there’s both a well-established Chinatown and a ‘Curry Mile’, named after the Bangladeshi and Pakistani restaurants stretching along Wilmslow Road in Rusholme.

Combine all this with art galleries such as The Lowry and some impressive Victorian buildings, and it’s easy to understand why Manchester has become such a beacon for visitors.

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