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10 Must-See Attractions in Manchester

posted in: Europe  |  posted by: Ian Harrison on December 9, 2009  |  4 Comments

England’s second city (sorry Birmingham) is a terrific tourist destination, with a slew of fine attractions, landmarks and points of interest to explore. The home of Manchester United and Manchester City is a favorite with world football fans of course but beyond the pitch, the city with a metropolitan population of 2.5 million is a gem.

The capital of North West England, together with Liverpool, is one of the more popular destinations in the United Kingdom. In fact, only London and Dublin receive more international visitors than Manchester. A proud history and heritage, notably as a primary hub of the Industrial Revolution, vibrant economy, fabulous arts and culture scene and architectural landscape make Manchester special. Here are ten must-see attractions in the city.

10. Manchester Evening News Arena

In the pantheon of great arenas, the one in Manchester is up there with the very best. For live music, M.E.N. is first-class and regularly tops world ticket sales, ahead of the likes of Madison Square Garden in New York, O2 Arena and Wembley Arena in London. With a dynamic 360 degree indoor configuration, M.E.N. can host a variety of events, from massive 23,000-seat rock concerts to small, intimate shows of 3,000 people. If one of your favorite bands is in Manchester to coincide with your visit, they will most likely play here.

9. Museum of Science and Industry

The city of Manchester’s vast contributions to science, technology and industry are what made the city what it is today. That legacy is on hand at the remarkable Museum of Science and Industry, a notable focal point on the European Route of Industrial Heritage (more on that in a future installment). The facility includes exhibits on communication, energy, transport, sewage and sanitation, textiles and more. The museum’s location in inner city Castlefield, a major center of urban conservation in Manchester over the past several decades, is a point of interest as well.

8. The Cornerhouse

To catch a glimpse of arty, bohemian Manchester, head to The Cornerhouse. Near Oxford Road Railway Station, the facility is a superlative center for arthouse cinema and the contemporary visual arts in the city. If innovation and experimental art is what you love, this is the place. The Cornerhouse café bar is a must.

7. Manchester Opera House

While not exactly La Scala or the Vienna State Opera, the Manchester Opera House is still a worthwhile Grade II landmark in England. Built in 1912, the concert hall hosts a number of events throughout the year and has a grand interior to admire.

6. Whitworth Art Gallery

Manchester has so many good museums to choose from that to exclude even one seems a pity. While we have left out the Manchester Art Gallery, spectacular Imperial War Museum North and eccentric Urbis, it was all for the sake of a place like the Whitworth. With over 55,000 works of art, the gallery features a number of important artists, such as Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Van Gogh and Picasso. Best of all, the Whitworth provides visitors with ample opportunity to explore the campus of Manchester University.

5. Free Trade Hall

Since the mid-19th century, Free Trade Hall has been one of the most vital landmarks in Manchester. The historic edifice has a strong connection with the city’s music scene, most notably as host of a transformative and now-mythical concert by the Sex Pistols in 1976. The fact that members of several Manchester bands like The Smiths, Joy Division,The Fall and Ludus were in attendance has helped perpetrate the legendary status of the show even further.

4. The Manchester Museum

In what could be one of the best university museums in the country, the Manchester Museum contains over 6 million items that range in nature from archaeological, botanical, ethological, numismatic and much, much more. Truly eclectic, the superb neo-Gothic facility is part of the University of Manchester.

3. The New People’s History Museum

Though not yet complete, the transformation of the New People’s History Museum in Manchester will surely be one of the cultural milestones for the city in 2010. The reconstruction will integrate old and new architecture in one coherent, visceral whole and could well become one of the most popular attractions in Manchester.

2. Canal Street

Canal Street is the nexus of the gay community in Manchester and features a slew of excellent restaurants and bars. Though not quite as hip as when Queer as Folk began to film here over a decade ago, all in all still a vibrant place to hang out in the city.

1. Old Trafford

The Theatre of Dreams is the home of Manchester United. There is simply no football stadium like Old Trafford in the world.

Check out superb hotel rates in Manchester, England.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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