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These days, Manchester is famous for more than just football and rock´n´ roll – even if these activities are still very important. Cool bars and shops nestle side-by-side in suburbs such as Northern Quarter, Castlefield and Gay Village.

Manchester dates from Roman times, as do many other European cities. Subsequently, the city led a fairly anonymous existence until the 18th century when the Industrial Revolution began to take off. Manchester soon became the world’s textile centre, and was a city where fabulous riches were mixed with extreme poverty. Many of the Victorian buildings and brick textile factories were architectural masterpieces, whereas the worker’s tenements were the poor ones.

The English textile industry began to suffer from problems as far back as the 1920’s, and was wiped out in the 1970’s. Although more than two million people lived in Greater Manchester, the city centre had been virtually abandoned.

In the last decade, this has started to change at a rapid pace. In the summer of 1996, the IRA exploded a large bomb in central Manchester. Using the insurance money and Government grants, a gigantic building project was started, which is still in progress and the beautiful old buildings are being renovated one by one.

In parallel with this, young creative and/or rich “Mancunians” have begun to look for flats in town.

The Northern Quarter suburb has become as hip as Hoxton or Soho in London, and in Castlefield in the south, luxurious flats have sprung up along the canals.

These days, Manchester is a lively, cultured city which compares well with other international cities. Wherever you are, you’ll find the historical waterways. The Castlefield district has the first man-made waterway, the Bridgewater Canal. A trip along the Manchester Ship Canal, which runs from Salford Quays to Liverpool, is very nice and displays locks and bridges that have been unchanged for 100 years.

Greater Manchester is made up of ten borough towns, from the East Lancashire steam railway in Bury to the pier and rugby league side of Wigan. Each district makes up the city’s unique identity. With easy reach to the Peak District, you’ll also experience breathtaking countryside.

Famous for its music connections, The Hollies, The Bee Gees, New Order, Oasis, Simply Red, Badly Drawn Boy and many more, Manchester’s popular music scene won’t leave anyone disappointed. One of the City’s biggest music event is ’In The City,’ a five-day expo that attracts over 500 unsigned acts. In The City helped launch both Radiohead and Coldplay.

There may be bitter rivalry, but love for the game unite Manchester’s football fans. There is Manchester City, Manchester United, as well as Bolton and Wigan. All teams provide the region with the highest quality football entertainment. Take a tour to The Etihad Stadium and The Old Trafford, or get hold of a ticket and watch one of the games live - you won’t regret it. The excitement is exhilarating, both in the stadium as well as the whole city.

Manchester serves up a world of flavours, first-class chefs, excellent local cuisine and good service. No matter what budget you have, there are many alternatives.

Manchester has several excellent places to sit down for a super British afternoon tea. The whole concept of afternoon tea originated in the 1840’s, where the ceremony was customary for both upper and working class.

Loose tea is traditionally brewed in a tea pot and served with sugar and milk. The luxurious version includes scones or sandwiches.

In the 1980’s, Manchester was called Madchester, when Hacienda was the coolest club in Europe. Hacienda has long since disappeared, but the party culture lives on. There is a vast number of bars and clubs in Northern Quarter, Castlefield and Gay Village.

In recent years, central Manchester has been converted into one large shopping precinct with many pedestrian streets and galleries. At the heart of the centre lies the building complex that, when completed in 1972, became Europe’s largest shopping centre under one roof. The Arndale Centre – thirty hectares with more than 200 shops and 750,000 visitors every week.

You will find international premium brands such as DKNY and Armani in the area around Deansgate, King Street and St. Ann’s Square. Here, as in Bridge Street and Market Street, there are also shops which sell clothes by well-known English designers.

If you are looking for the very latest street fashion, you should head for Oldham Street, the main street in Northern Quarter. This contains shops like Arc Gallery Store, where many young designers and artists exhibit their wares. Northern Quarter also has many small record shops and interior design shops for people who have an eye for trends. Artisans work at the Manchester Craft Centre in Oak Street. Affleck’s Palace, on Church Street, is also worth a visit if you are interested in design. Many of the leading young names in Manchester are brought together in this four-storey building.

If the Arndale Centre was the largest in the 1970s, a worthy successor was the Trafford Centre which opened in the district of Dumplington, outside Trafford Park, in 1998. Generally speaking, the enormous shopping centre contains all the well-known clothes shops and is the largest of its kind in Europe.

A tip for those interested in football: visit Manchester United’s shop in the Old Trafford Stadium.

The Ainscow Unrated
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