Manchester © mark andrew
Although now best known for its football team,
Manchester was once one of England's greatest Victorian cities and
the birthplace of both rail travel and Rolls Royce cars. It is
situated on the east bank of the Irwell River in the northwest of
the country, and is the centre of a huge metropolitan area which
now encompasses the surrounding towns of Bury, Bolton, Wigan,
Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, and Oldham. Liverpool is just 30
miles (48km) down river.
The area long had a reputation as a drab,
industrialised sprawl, but Manchester has succeeded in reinventing
itself, becoming a vibrant metropolis with a nightlife second only
to London. The city boasts more than 50 free museums and galleries,
a world-class sports centre, and plenty of parks, gardens, and
The city's architecture is largely a reminder of its
central role in the cotton trade, and many of the original
warehouses can still be seen, although modern-day Manchester is now
very different from its heyday as an industrial hub.
When the city centre was badly damaged in an IRA
bombing in 1996, much of the central area was beautifully
renovated. Now renamed the Millennium Quarter, it is a marvellous
contrast of splendid Victorian architecture and towering glass
edifices, including the eye-catching Urbis exhibition centre.
Manchester is home to two of the United Kingdom's
largest universities: the University of Manchester and Manchester
Metropolitan University. The Royal Northern College of Music is
located here as well, bringing the total to more than 86,000
students living in the city. This large student population ensures
that there is always a buzz of activity and a party atmosphere in
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