Top Manchester's landmarks
Manchester, England, enjoys a place in history as the cradle of the industrial revolution. Over the years, the city has continued to reinvent itself as the manufacturing sector has declined. World famous among soccer fans, Manchester also draws visitors for the shopping, the vibrant arts scene, the festivals and special events.
Home of Manchester United, this is the largest club football stadium in the UK. But, you don't have to love football to want to visit Old Trafford. They also regularly host league and union rugby, and major international stars like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen have held their concerts there. You can also go on a stadium tour to see what the "Theatre of Dreams" looks like behind the scenes. It's easy to get to, as well — it's only about half a mile from Old Trafford Cricket Ground and the adjacent tram stop, and it's got a Holiday Inn Express nearby if you're tired after taking in a match or a show.
Built around 1540 by the Tatton family, Wythenshawe Hall was privately owned until it was sold and donated to the city. It is now owned by the city council of Manchester. This majestic estate sits on 250 acres of land on the southern border of the city and was home to an art gallery and museum until 2010.
Sadly, Wythenshawe Hall was heavily damaged by fire in 2016. A group called The Friends of Wythenshawe Hall has worked diligently to restore the property to its former glory. As of April 2019, the property was still closed for repairs and projected to reopen in 2020.
Castlefield is classified as an "urban heritage park," and it's a lovely area to explore restored Victorian homes sitting among the canals and forts. A trip on a tour boat down the Bridgewater Canal gives you a beautiful view of the old coal warehouses that have been converted to shops, offices, hotels and restaurants. You can also visit the art gallery at Castlefield or catch a concert at Bridgewater Hall.
While free transportation is available nearby, travelers rave about the beauty of a walk through this re-purposed urban landscape. It's an excellent choice when the noise of the city gets to be too much.
Most parts of Manchester Cathedral date back to 1422 or 1506, even though it didn't become a cathedral until the mid-1800s. The chapels and choir were built between 1486 and 1508, and they've experienced only very minor alterations in the centuries since. The choir stalls, in particular, feature ornately decorated misericords. The St. John's Chapel serves as the chapel of the Manchester Regiment. The Lady Chapel contains a wooden screen dating back to 1440. An octagonal chapter house from 1465 features fascinating murals, including one with a figure of Jesus in modern clothing.
When it's time to eat, consider a restaurant tour of Ancoats. Once known for gang violence and crime, this neighborhood rose from the ashes and now appears on lists of the coolest places in the world to visit and reside. Abandoned cotton mills have been transformed into restaurants, apartments, offices and retail spaces.
Because the area was settled by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, it was once known as Little Italy. Now, it features world-class restaurants like Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza along with a host of bakeries and other Manchester attractions:
- Try unique treats at Pollen — such as the cruffin, which is a cross between a croissant and a muffin.
- Sugo Pasta Kitchen serves up an amazing lunch.
- You can't beat Mana for a fine dining experience.
- Experience Ancoats Coffee Company for freshly roasted coffee, sandwiches and baked goods.
- The Jane Eyre is another favorite stop for drinks inspired by world-famous breweries.
- For a unique shopping experience, check out the Wing Yip Superstore.
- If you prefer to go jogging or walk your dog in peace and quiet, check out New Islington Marina.
At the intersection of Salford and Trafford, you'll find an abandoned dock area that's been transformed into a relaxing leisure space. Just 10 minutes from the heart of the city, The Lowry features theater shows of all kinds.
Afterward, you can shop, catch a movie or have dinner to talk about the fabulous production. Browse the world's largest public collection of art, including paintings and drawings. Along with the public pieces, private collectors also lend some of their pieces from time to time. Everyone can find something they'll enjoy when you spend a day at The Lowry, whether you're a sports fan or a pop culture fanatic.
Manchester Central Library
Bibliophiles celebrated when the Manchester Central Library re-opened in 2014 after extensive renovations. World-renowned as an architectural marvel, even the Town Hall next door coordinates in shape and size. Architect Vincent Harris based the structure of the rotunda on the Roman Pantheon from the second century. A two-level portico forms the main entryway off St. Peter's Square. Five bays of Corinthian columns complete the design. The second and third floors are surrounded by a Tuscan colonnade. Inside the library, you'll find thousands of books and historical documents along with a cafe and theater in the basement.
The Manchester Museum has a vast collection of artifacts ranging from dinosaur fossils like a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to more than 16,000 Egyptian pieces. Twenty human mummies are on display; their stories never fail to fascinate visitors. A unique and vast entomology collection includes more than two and a half million specimens. The animal section of the museum includes more than a million preserved animals, including many birds along with their eggs. You can even see some of the specimens collected by Darwin on his visit to the Galapagos Islands in 1835.
As an added bonus, the fun doesn't end with the close of the regular business day at the Manchester Museum. After hours, a different kind of atmosphere takes over as the museum changes over to an entertainment venue. Programs feature speakers along with theater performances. You can find the upcoming events on the museum's webpage.