Manchester City Hall is the most striking building in the city center. The 87m high tower was for a long time the tallest building in Manchester. The design by Alfred Waterhouse prevailed in competition with 137 architects. The Manchester Town Hall was built between 1867 and 1877 in a Gothic style on a triangular plot of land on Albert Square. However, not all parts of the town hall have been built in Gothic style, there are also Romanesque arches and quotes from other eras. The architectural style can therefore also be called eclectic, which was criticized by other architects. Alfred Waterhouse responded to the criticism that the Manchester City Hall is not a medieval building.
At that time, Manchester was a rich industrial city and wanted to set an example with the new town hall, the building was intended to reflect the ambition of the city and to overshadow all other buildings of this kind in the country. From the outside, the town hall impresses by its size, in the interior by its bright rooms, which were embellished with elaborate decorations, murals and statues. Main attraction of the town hall is the "Great Hall" with Murals by Ford Madox Brown with scenes from the history of Manchester. The "Great Hall" is a 30 x 15 m room with high windows reminiscent of a medieval knight's hall. In the sculpture hall you can find the famous floor mosaic with the Manchester bees. The bee symbolizes the workers of Manchester and the beehive the industry. The bee is the symbol of Manchester that you will find everywhere in the city. The city hall is the most famous attraction of Manchester.
The "Royal Exchange" was at that time the largest cotton exchange in the world. The building was accomplished in 1921 in the classic Edwardian style. The architects Bradshaw, Gass and Hope built a striking tower on the corner of Market St / Exchange St and two monumental domes in the interior. Even before the Royal Exchange, there were stock exchange buildings that were demolished and replaced by larger structures. The "Royal Exchange" was not a pure cotton exchange, other transactions where settled here as well. After the end of the cotton boom around 1930, the stock market lost importance. The "Royal Exchange" was rebuilt in 1979 by Levitt Bernstein to become a theater. Since then, the building has been called the "Royal Exchange Theater". The actual theater is located in a spaceship-like structure, which stands in the middle of the former traders hall. There is also a café and a bar in the building.
The Manchester Central Library looks like the Pantheon in Rome. In front of the round building stands a row of six Corinthian columns. The Manchester Central Library was designed in 1934 by Vincent Harris in Classicist style. The entrance is laterally in a new building, which was built in 2014 by Ryder architects. In this new building, the ceiling is made of steel, so that the visitors are reflected in the ceiling. The Central Library is the most eye-catching building on St Peter's Square.
John Rylands was a prolific fabric producer when he died in 1880. His wife Enriqueta Rylands built this library to commemorate her husband. The red sandstone building looks like a church and the reading room is reminiscent of a Gothic nave. John Rylands had a large collection of theological books, so it is not surprising that his library looks like a church. The "John Rylands Library" was designed by Basil Champneys and built between 1890 and 1899. The Gothic style was not consistently implemented on the facade, only the towers at the entrance are delicately decorated. The "John Rylands Library" is much more elegant on the inside than on the outside.
The Barton Arcade is the last surviving cast iron passage in Manchester. There used to be three glass passages in the city. The Barton Arcade was opened in 1871. The Victorian shopping arcade connects St Annes Square with Deansgate shopping street. The Barton Arcade was inspired by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which opened in Milan 1867. The cast iron elements for the U-shaped passage were produced in Glasgow. The glass roof of the 16 m high arcade has two domes. The Barton Arcade is the best preserved shopping arcade of its kind in the UK.
St Ann's Church was built in 1712, probably according to the plans of John Barker. Originally, the tower had a dome, but it was removed in 1777. The relatively unspectacular church was donated by Lady Ann Bland. Built before the Industrial Revolution, St Ann's Church is one of the oldest buildings in central Manchester. In 1891, the church was rebuilt by Alfred Waterhouse (who also built the Manchester Town Hall), and the Baroque entrance on the north side was attached. The square in front of the church often hosts events and markets.
The Piccadilly Gardens are the center of Manchester. The park on Main Market Street is always busy. On the western corner are the department stores Debenhams and Primark. A statue of Queen Victoria sits on a throne in the park. At the southeast corner is the "Manchester Visitor Information Center". The name "Piccadilly" comes from the Spanish (picadillo) and refers to the round neck collar made of curved white lace. In 2002, the square was redesigned by japanese architect Tadao Ando and EDAW. A exposed concrete wall with café separates the garden from the tram and bus station in the south of the Picadilly Gardens. The concrete wall is mocked by the locals as "Berlin Wall".
The Cathedral of Manchester was built in 1215, but the building was often damaged during history. 1649, the church was looted. In 1864, the dilapidated tower had to be demolished and rebuilt. In 1882, the nave was demolished and rebuilt. A German bomb hit the cathedral in 1940. This makes the medieval Cathedral of Manchester look like its own copy. But still it is a main tourist attraction of Manchester.
"The Printworks" is a former newspaper house with an attached printing house, rebuilt in 1998 and reopened in 2000 as a cinema and gastronomy complex. In the interior, there is a passage that leads through the building and where the entrances to various restaurants, clubs, bars and a cinema center are located. In "The Printworks" you will also find the "Hard Rock Cafe" of Manchester. To the opposite is the National Football Museum.
The "Northern Quarter" is the hip district of Manchester. Here you will find interesting shops, bars, fashion shops and restaurants. The "Northern Quarter" is located north of Piccadilly Gardens between High Street and Newton Street. The center of the quarter is at the intersection of Oldham and Hilton Streets. In the side streets you will find large murals and other forms of street art. Many international street artists have left their marks in the "Norther Quarter".
Manchester's Chinatown is quite small with only a few thousand Chinese living in the city. But there are a few Asian supermarkets and several Chinese restaurants. Since 1987, a Chinese gate marks the entrance to Chinatown. Since the English food is not famous for culinary delights, you should be enchanted by Chinatown. However, not every restaurant in Chinatown is recommended. I liked it best at "Yang Sing" (Princess Street 34).
In the "Gay Village", around Canal Street there are countless bars, cafes and clubs. The area on the "Rochdale Canal" is very beautiful, with many historic brick buildings. Here you can still discover the splendor of the old industrial metropolis. The Manchester "Gay Village" used to be a fun district. The name "gay" means happy, funny, colorful and cheerful. The term was not exclusive used for homosexual. The "Gay Village" is of course a gay neighborhood with bars and clubs mostly for queer, transgender and transvestites. Anyone can party here even if he / she is not gay. At the weekend it can be very crowded, bachelor parties and hen parties make their contribution.
On the south side of the Rochdale Canal is a monument to Alan Turing at the Sackville Garden. The computer scientist was involved in the deciphering of the "Enigma" in World War II and is considered one of the first computer scientists ever. Alan Turing was homosexual and forced into a chemical castration. Two years later he took his own life. Since then, a lot has changed for gay people in the UK.
The name "Castlefield" comes from the Roman fort built here in 79 AD under General Julius Agricola. In the garrison lived about 500 soldiers (1 cohort) which consisted of auxiliary troops (troops from friendly tribes). The fort was 160 m long and 130 m wide, it was surrounded by two ditches. The Roman garrison "Mamucium" or "Mancunium" was built at the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Medlock. The British name "Mam" means something like breast or mother. Besides the two rivers there were also two trade routes which were protected by the roman castle. Around the fortress there was a settlement, in the so-called "vicus" lived civilians and craftsmen. The settlement was north of the fort and had an area of 26 hectares. Around 410 AD, the Romans withdrew from Britain and the "Mamucium" castle fell into decay. The settlement was abandoned 100 years earlier. Near Deansgate is the "Castlefield Urban Heritage Park" where parts of the Roman fort have been rebuilt.
Castlefield is the district south of downtown. Once upon a time here was the port of Manchester where cotton and potatoes came into the city via the Liverpool canal, and Manchester fabrics were shipped all over the world. Later, the first railway line in the world was opened here, the first railway station is located on the grounds of the Museum of Science and Technology. More railway lines and bridges were added and so a huge traffic junction was created in the early 19th century. The port was shut down when the railroad accelerated the transport. Today, Castlefield is a place with beautiful canals and restaurants that have a high recreational value. From the station "Deansgate-Castlefield" you can walk along the historic canals.
The Beetham Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Manchester with a hight of 169 meters. The glass tower houses a Hilton Hotel and luxury apartments on the upper floors. The skyscraper of Ian Simpson Architects was completed in 2006. On the 23rd floor of the Beetham Tower is the bar "Cloud 23" with a wonderful view over Manchester. During the day you can enjoy an afternoon tea, for the evening you should better book a table. The "Cloud 23" is the only public vantage point of the city and therefore often fully booked.
The Lowry is a shopping and cultural center that opened in 2000. The former port area was upgraded by the project of architect Michael Wilford and is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Manchester. To the opposite is the Imperial War Museum of Manchester by American Polish architect Daniel Libeskind. The tram takes you quickly from the center to the "MediaCity UK", which is located nearby. The district is growing very quickly, new residential towers rise around the former docks.
Manchester's university district stretches from All Saints Park to Whitworth Park on either side of Oxford Road. There is a lot to discover along the approximately 1.5 km long route on Oxford Road. Here you will find the Manchester Museum, the main building of Manchester University, the "Holy Name Church", the Whitworth Museum and the Royal Infirmary (photo) from 1908 by the architects Hall and Brooke in Greenwich Baroque style. If you go further on the Oxford Road out of town you come to the "Curry Mile". The extension of Oxford Road is called Wilmslow Road from the Whitworth Park onward. There are many immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The numerous snack bars gave the streets the nickname "Curry Mile". The "Curry Mile" is very popular among students, because the food is good and cheap.