Manchester is considered England’s second city both culturally and historically and is situated in the north west of the country. Known as the ‘Capital of the North’ it is the centre for the arts, media, commerce and higher education. Home to the Hallé Orchestra, the Manchester Opera House and several theatres where there is usually at least one West End production. Historically Manchester was an industrialised city and many of the former cotton mills are now offices or tasteful loft style apartments. It has an inherited network of canals, once used for transporting raw materials, but now delightful recreational areas for boats, walking and wildlife. The city nowadays focuses on the financial sector and service-based commerce.
Manchester is a proud sporting city. It has two rival Premiership football teams; Manchester United, whose famous stadium is Old Trafford, and Manchester City. Lancashire Cricket club also hosts games in the summer season.
A tour of Manchester’s city centre will reveal a range of architecture from Victorian cotton mills to contemporary glass skyscrapers. The most impressive building is probably the Gothic style Town Hall in Albert Square, but visitors should also seek out the old Corn Exchange and the black and white timbered Shambles Square, with the Old Wellington Inn dating back to 1552. Shopping is focused in the massive Arndale Centre in the centre of the city and the Trafford Centre on the outskirts.
Manchester is one of the main TV bases for the BBC and Granada TV and many popular programs are filmed in the area. One of the longest running local soap operas, Coronation Street, which began in 1960, has a permanent set which can be toured by fans. It is a great way to see local Mancunian life and hear the distinctive northern accent.
Some of the most popular attractions in and around Manchester are Debdale Park, Gorton, with boating, nature trails and rock climbing and Castlefield Heritage Park with its Roman remains. Heaton Hall and Lyme Park and Hall are both grand historic mansions filled with antiques and art collections. The Museum of Science and Industry has interactive science exhibits. Just outside Manchester is Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre with the Lovell radio telescope and observatory.
Manchester International airport is about 10 miles from the centre of Manchester and is linked by frequent train services.