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8 Keys To Discovering Birmingham

1. Victoria Square – the Heart of the City

The city’s main historic buildings are located in this square, notably Council House with its clock tower – known as Big Brum –the Birmingham Town Hall and Birmingham Cathedral. Cultural events are held in the square, including the Frankfurt Christmas Market, laid out in the purest German Christmas-market style.

2. In Search of the Industrial Past

Birmingham was the main driving force behind the United Kingdom’s industrial revolution, which earned it acclaim as “the factory of the world”, or the “city of a thousand businesses”. Dating from that period is the city’s extensive network of canals. An enjoyable way of discovering them is to go for a ride on one of the colourful barges that ply the canals and take in the industrial heritage that has survived the test of time. It has also become a major leisure area, with pubs and restaurants to relax in before pressing on with your city tour.

One way of finding out how workers lived in the 19th century is to visit Back to Backs, a court of back-to-back houses which has been restored. Tours are organised to the precinct with its workshops, enabling you to get a better idea of that period.

3. Art and Museums – the pre-Raphaelites and Much More

The Birmingham Museum & Gallery Art (BMAG) boasts the world’s largest collection of pre-Raphaelites, with over 2,000 works on display. It also houses sections on archaeology, social history and the art of other periods. Enthusiasts of the contemporary avant-garde and the latest art trends should head to the Ikon Gallery, housed in an 1877 neo-Gothic building designed by John Henry Chamberlain.

4. More Than Just Books in The Library of Birmingham

Well worth visiting, if only for the stunning building housing this library on Centenary Square. This, the largest library in the United Kingdom, is also famed for having over 40,000 objects related to the life and work of William Shakespeare. You can also visit the Parker Collection of children’s books, that of the British politician, Benjamin Stone, with some magnificent photographs, one of the country’s largest collections of music for silent films, and a host of other exhibits.

5. Cadbury – More Than a Chocolate Factory

South of Birmingham lies Bournville, one of the city’s most beautiful districts. Among its chief landmarks, there is one coveted by all children – the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. Inside you will discover the history of one of the most important chocolate factories in the world. A must if you’re travelling with children.

6. The Jewellery Quarter – Jewels for Everyone!

Most of Birmingham’s jewellery production is centred in the Jewellery Quarter, where over 100 jewellers and experts in the sector are to be found. The district dates back to the 18th century and is the site of the only Georgian square in the city. Highly recommended is a tour of the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, an erstwhile factory and workshop converted into a museum where you can see how jewels are made, among other things.

7. Bullring Shopping Centre – the Temple of Shopping

Apart from being one of Birmingham’s architectural gems, it is an essential destination for shopping lovers. It houses no fewer than 160 stores where you can indulge in one of the United Kingdom’s favourite pastimes – shopping. Before you leave, make sure you take a selfie alongside the popular bull statue in the interior.

8. Sarehole Mill – A Place Which Inspired J.R.R. Tolkien

Some five kilometres from the city centre lies Sarehole Mill, one of the last two surviving water mills in the Birmingham area.J.R.R. Tolkienfans have good reason to make a pilgrimage to this spot, as just a few yards from the mill stands Tolkien’s old house. Both the water mill and its surrounding area was a source of inspiration for some of the scenes in Lord of the Rings.

Now you have the keys to discovering Birmingham; all that’s left is to pick up your Vueling here and see it all for yourself.

 

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Tony Hisgett, David Merrett, ozz13x, Fotorus, Tim Parkinson, Elliott Brown

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