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Birmingham

Birmingham, the surprising city of canals
A dynamic city with a thousand facets, alive and exciting where past and present are perfectly integrated. Although Birmingham (or Brum, as it is know locally) is not at the top of a list of tourist destinations, it has many interesting feature of which the inhabitants (“Brummies”) are proud and which make the second British city an interesting place to visit. Less than 200 km from London, Birmingham has one of the most characteristic accents in Great Britain with a truly unique sound.

Over the course of the last 1,000 years, Birmingham has been transformed from a small Anglo-Saxon community, founded in 1086 with the name Domesday Book, into a large industrial and commercial city. From the thirteenth century, Birmingham held a market in its centre on a site which today is known as the Bull Ring, and which is still the main shopping centre of the city. Later, in the sixteenth century, the city acquired a key role in the metal working industry thanks to the availability of iron and coal, and developed a weapons production centre in the area known today as Gun Quarter.
 
 
Birmingham’s transformation occurred during the Industrial Revolution, a period in which an extensive network of canals was built to satisfy the economic requirements of the city and the residential areas along the banks. Birmingham has recently and lovingly restored its canal network (there are more canals here than in Venezia!).
 
Over the last few years the city has undergone radical changes with the construction of new squares, the restoration of old buildings, the removal of pedestrian underpasses and the restoration of the Bull Ring Shopping Centre.
 
The Bull Ring
The Bull Ring
Birmingham is a lively city that offers excellent opportunities for shopping, in particular in places such as the Bull Ring and Centenary Square
The Bull Ring with more than 160 shops it's a glamour centre of the city exalted by a mix of architectural styles, from the traditional to the futuristic.
The Bronze Bull by Laurence Broderick is the symbol of the square which welcomes visitors as they enter. An icon of civic pride for the residents, the bull has become the city’s mascot and is one of the most photographed monuments in the country. 
 
 
 
Birmingham Museum
Not to be missed
The main places of interest in BirminghamAston Hall, built in 1618, was the last tradition Jacobean building constructed in England and has splendid seventeenth-century architectural details including plaster stucco work, wooden decorations and fireplaces. Don’t miss the Ironbridge Gorge Museums, situated in a picturesque area often used by film directors to create eighteenth-century scenes, which display examples of Great Britain’s industrial heritage including the world’s first iron bridge.
 
A walk along the pedestrian areas of Victoria and Chamberlain Square enables you to admire some magnificent buildings and statues dating back to the nineteenth century, the era of greatest splendour.
 

A visit to the city should also include the Cathedral of St. Philip, the Iron Man statue and Cadbury World, where you can see and taste delicious chocolate. 
 
Gas Street Basin
The restaurant
The city of Birmingham comes alive at night and even though it is renowned for its Indian restaurants (don’t miss the Balti Triangle on Ladypool Road, Moseley Road, Stoney Lane and Stratford Road), it offers almost any type of cuisine, and the bars and nightclubs are exceptional.
Worth a visit is the Gas Street Basin,  an area where different canals converge, with bars, coffee houses and restaurants.
 
Where to sleep in Birmingham
 

Birmingham is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.

To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.

 

Text by Luca Lembi
Photos: Sisterscom.com,
Shutterstock
Video: wmgrowth.com
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Published on Avion Tourism N47 - Update april 2018
 
 
Tourism Board
www.visitbirmingham.com
WHERE TO GO
Monuments
ST. PAUL CHURCH 

St. Paul’s Chapel of Birmingham was built in 1772 and consecrated in 1779. After various vicissitudes of history the church was restored between 1985 and 1994. The coat of arms on the wall, erected in 1996, represents that of George III in whose reign the church was built.

www.stpaulsjq.church

TOWN HALL AND SYMPHONY HALL

Town Hall and Symphony Hall Birmingham is one of the UK's leading music organizations and offers jazz, pop, folk, classical and rock concerts. The Town Hall, inaugurated in 1834, is one of the oldest concert halls in the world and has hosted several artists such as Led Zeppelin, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Bat For Lashes, PJ Harvey and Wayne Shorter.

www.thsh.co.uk

 
CATHEDRAL OF ST. PHILIP
Birmingham's Anglican Cathedral, dedicated to St. Philip, was completed in 1725 and is one of the most beautiful historic buildings in the city center. Located in a restored cemetery, the cathedral is adorned with four important pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
ST. MARTIN'S CHURCH

The Church of St Martin of Birmingham is the ancient church of the city, dating back to the nineteenth century. It was built in 1873 and is an example of Victorian Gothic architecture designed by Alfred Chatwin, who also worked for the city's Parliament.

 

 

TOWN HALL

Victoria Square
Designed by Joseph Aloysius Hansom as a political forum for the citizens, the Town Hall of Birmingham, since its opening, has been a place where every prime minister and politician has held meetings and debates. It was a symbol of the city from 1870 until the twentieth century, but in 1996 was closed temporarily to undergo extensive renovation. In addition to being the centre of cultural life for the country, it has also been an important location for the tradition of classical music that saw the birth of the city’s orchestra.
www.thsh.co.uk 

LIBRARY
The Birmingham Library, designed by Mecanoo, is a center for learning, information and culture. It occupies an initial site in Centenary Square between the Birmingham Repertory Theater (The REP) and Baskerville House.
The Birmingham Library has been integrated with the REP on the ground and mezzanine floors and includes a large outdoor circular amphitheater in front of the building.
 
Museums

BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY 

Chamberlain Square
Thanks to the generosity of some citizens and manufacturers, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery opened on 28 November 1885 and since 1860 has showcased collections and pieces of real excellence, such as the international collection of metal itemsfrom the Victorian period, objects of European design from the Renaissance or ceramics originating from South America and from the ancient world. In 1912, thanks to a benefactor, the complex was extended and the 4 initial galleries turned into 40 galleries. Today its activities continue, with new collections, exhibitions and projects.
www.bmag.org.uk

IKON GALLERY 

Oozells Street School, BrindlayplaceFrom its earliest days and for forty years the Ikon Gallery of Birmingham has been recognised for its innovation, its internationalism and its excellence. It is now housed in the neo-gothic style Oozells Street School and has its own artistic programme dedicated to the promotion of temporary exhibitions.

www.ikon-gallery.org

 

Excursions
JEWELLERY QUARTER
The Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham is an area with a unique character, described as a ‘national treasure’, it houses unique buildings and businesses that work with jewels and metals. This district is historically known as the Hockley area and extends over 300 hectares. The spaces and locations are architecturally significant for the area as an expression of the historical heritage.
 
BOTANICAL GARDENS

Westbourne Road
The city’s botanical gardens are the perfect place to relax. The Botanical Gardens of Birmingham offers beautiful green spaces, ideal playgrounds for children, fountains, tea rooms and four greenhouses that display all the features of a tropical rainforest and an arid desert. Regular exhibitions and events are held in the gardens.
www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk   

CANALS BOAT TRIP

International Convention Centre Quayside
From Easter until October, it is possible to navigate Birmingham’s canals to admire the city’s beauty from the river. There are several tours on offer so you can choose the one that best suits you. The tour lasts about an hour and includes a guide and a light snack.
www.sherbornewharf.co.uk

CADBURY WORLD TOUR  

Linden Rd, Bournville
In 1879, Richard and George Cadbury decided to move their expanding business from Birmingham to Bournville, 6 kilometres south of the centre of the city. Birmingham is in fact the headquarters of Cadbury’s chocolate production and a visit to Cadbury World in Bournville gives you the opportunity to learn all about the history and manufacturing process of this legendary chocolate.
www.cadburyworld.co.uk

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