Manchester (we think) is better than London, but alas not that many people make it up this way. London, Edinburgh… even Liverpool with their Beatles stuff (I do love Liverpool)… but as with many countries there are lots of other places to see. Don’t even get me started on Leeds, Chester, York, Belfast and of course Wales! But home is where the heart is and we feel our wonderful home city of Manchester gets unfairly missed off the tourist trail. In fact when we do see tourists we get all excited and proud, unlike those ungrateful grumps down in London! We love it! So here’s why you should swing by:
John Leland in 1538 once described Manchester as ‘the fairest, best buildied, quikkest and most populus Tounne of al Lancastreshire’. By 1844 it was again being praised as ‘the most wonderful city of modern times’ by Benjamin Disraeli! In more recent times one of the cities most characterful sons, Ian Brown proclaimed ‘we’ve got everything except a beach’…and well now we even have that a couple of times a year down at Castlefield lock!
It’s the centre of the industrial revolution “Cottonopolis”
The world truly wouldn’t be what it is today without Manchester, we were the beating heart of the industrial revolution. In fact we ourselves owe the Industrial Revolution an awful lot too, before then Manchester was just a small town attached to the side of the much bigger Salford city. Our world leading industries literally put Manchester and the surrounding mills towns of Rochdale and Oldham on the map and changed peoples working lives the world over! All over the city from the remaining factories and mills of Ancoats to the enormous structures of Castlefield and the revolutionary canal systems Manchester still displays proudly our industrial past!
Communism was invented here!
Yeah you read that right, Friedrich Engels lived in the city with his wealthy factory owning father for a time and witnessed the depravity, disease and generally awful working and living conditions of the cities slums. In direct response to this he wrote ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’ in 1845. Engels and Karl Marx would regularly meet in the Cheethams library whilst compiling one of histories most influential books; The Communist Manifesto’ as a direct result of the class struggle they saw in Manchester!
The Northern Quarter
The Norther Quarter has to be one of my favourite areas of the city, when I was growing up it was rough and edgy, sometimes scary but always full of unique characters and endlessly fascinating. We would search every victorian backstreet and alleyway looking for the next amazing skatespot whilst getting up to some crazy adventures. Now a days the NQ is like Manchester’s answer to Williamsburg, only a little less cliche. It’s full of independent shops, unique and cutting edge eateries and trendy bars it is the centre for alternative, creative and bohemian culture in the city!
Another favourite of mine this time Castlefield offers a step back in time to the power and might of the industrial revolution. From the gigantic cast iron pillars of Castlefield viaduct to the covergiance of the all important canals, Castlefield is like a walking history lesson with all the boring bits cut out! The area actually traces it’s routes back to the roman period, remains of the fort of ‘Mancunium’ can still be seen here alongside the Bridgewater canal: The worlds first industrial canal which was built in 1779.
Not only that but Castlefield is home to the worlds oldest canal warehouse (1770), first passenger railway terminated here in 1830 and the first railway warehouse (1831), alongside Ancoats this really was the heart of the industrial revolution! Aside from the history I just love the atmosphere of the place, the architecture giving it a quite epic feel!
We gave the world some of the greatest bands and our scene is still alive today
The Smiths/ Morrissey, Oasis, New Order/ Joy Division, Take That (ok not to everyones taste!), The Stone Roses (My favourite Manc band), The Bee Gees, Simply Red, Elbow…not to mention career defining performances by The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks. Manchester has been the crazy and wild centre of musical revolutions for decades, from Northern Soul to Madchester and Brit Pop some of the most ground breaking bands have either come from our city or flocked to perform here to a grateful crowd!
We are friendly and enthusiastic
Those folks down in London are a grumpy bunch, and hell who can blame them with the crazy prices and the packed out commute. Us Mancunians might sound like a bunch of ‘scallies’ but we are a friendly and approachable bunch with our own brand of unique, dry and sarcastic humour! Come up here and you will meet some sound people and have a right mint time! innit!
Our system of world famous canals
Never mind Venice, the Manchester ship canal is a thing of beauty in it’s own right! From the Rochdale Canal to the Bridgewater canal these waterways are not only revolutionary but also in the city centre lined with bars, clubs and restaurants.
Greater Manchester has some amazing countryside
Not only is the city centre packed full of amazing history and architecture but the surrounding country has some wonderful smaller towns but what makes it really special is the beautiful countryside. The famous Pennine way runs across the wild Lancashire moors and offers some breath taking views and great adventures from hiking to rock climbing, paragliding to mountain biking the surrounding countryside is stunning!
Ok, so I will admit here that I do actually hate Manchester United and actually city too as an Arsenal fan but I can’t deny the legacy of Manchester’s contribution to the beautiful game. We even play host to the National Football Museum in one of the city’s landmark buildings: The Urbis! The county of Greater Manchester is also home to several other great teams including my local team, Oldham Athletic! We also have hosted the commonwealth games and a regular Marathon and 10k, Usain Bolt even broke the record for the fastest 150m here!
artwork by graffiti4hire
A mixing pot of cultures
One of the greatest things about Manchester is our multiculturalism. We are a melting pot of culture with people from all corners of the world. We have the third largest Chinatown in Europe right in the centre of town, we have the famous Curry Mile in Rusholme, The Gay Village on Canal Street and numerous other smaller communities of people from all over the world, from all cultures and backgrounds. If you want authentic Italian, Spanish, French, Lebanese, Japanese or Mexican then we have it! Our city is all about cultural diversity and understanding, we are a vibrant mix of people and love to celebrate that!
We changed the world
After the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 Manchester became a hotbed of radical political thought and activism, like when Communism was invented here! From splitting the atom to changing the political landscape, to changing music forever with the Sex Pistols landmark gig in 1976…Manchester was and is at the heart of progression!
We have the oldest library in the UK
Our buildings are pretty amazing and full of history
Then we have the amazing John Rylands library, a grade 1 listed Neo-Gothic building dating back to 1900, it’s like walking right into Hogwarts! We have two main victorian train stations, the corn exchange, listed mills in Ancoats and of course our new skyscraper; The Betham tower! Then there is the Central Library from 1934, the huge rotunda domed structure was designed to resemble the parthenon…and true story; My Great-Grandad who was an Irish immigrant to England was a roofer and helped to build the library. He was also a drunk and died falling off the building after having a little too much to drink that particular day!
We have all the glitz and glamour for those who want it
But also, if you want a budget friendly place to visit in the UK then Manchester is the place, our prices, even at the more expensive places, are a fraction of the rip off costs of London. Eating out doesn’t have to break the bank either, we have a tonne of amazing budget restaurants, independent shops and value bars and pubs. A night out in Manchester won’t break the bank, an neither does our transport or accommodation either!
But also the one of a kind experiences
We also have some crazy hidden gems
We have some pretty unique museums and galleries
We are spoilt for chose in Manchester with our galleries and museums, from the Museum of Science and Industry which documents our industrial heritage to the National Football museum which represents the whole country we have diverse range to choose from. The Imperial War Museum North, The Lowry Centre, Cornerhouse, Manchester art Gallery, The Manchester Museum, The Whitworth, Chinese Arts Centre…we even have a Hat museum! The Northern Quarter is also home to many smaller galleries, artists studios and graffiti walls too!
The Media Industry
Manchester has the largest student population in Europe
It’s no wonder we have so many students as within the city alone we have 3 universities (I even went to one!) with hundreds of years of history and important cultural, technical and artistic developments. Not to mention all the other universities and colleges within Greater Manchester as a whole! This makes Manchester a centre for education, development as well as being full of young and passionate people!
Despite being an industrial city we also have our fair share of green spaces, not even mentioning the countryside which surrounds the city! Within the centre we have the 600acre Heaton park with hosts festivals in the summer and sporting events all year round as well as having a boating lake, golf course, ornamental gardens and tennis courts. Then there is Platt Fields with its lake, labyrinth, Shakespearian gardens and even a skatepark! Wonderful places to wander on a wonderfully sunny summers day, see the leaves fall in Autumn or enjoy the snow in Winter!
Our award winning Christmas Markets draw people from all over the world for over a month every year. Spread about all over the city the markets were voted in the top ten for the whole of Europe and have become one of the biggest and best around! A Mancunian Christmas isn’t complete without a wander around these romantic markets!
Well there you have it, I am sure despite this awesome list I will have missed something out!! Manchester, it’s a city for the cool kids, for the go getters, revolutionists, creators and those who think a little differently! London…that’s so predictable and grumpy!! Come and have pie and a pint with some happy northerners when you visit the UK!!
Can you tell we are just a bit proud of our amazing hometown!!??
It has also made the list of Lonely Planets “Cities to visit in 2016!”
Have you ever been up to our hometown of Manchester?
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