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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 Comunicaciónmore info
A German Christmas in Birmingham
A trip to Birmingham in the period from mid-November to the run-up to Christmas has a surprising added enticement, particularly for lovers of Christmas markets. That is when the Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair is held, a market in the purest German style in Britain’s second largest city. What’s more, it is the largest market of this type both in the United Kingdom and outside German itself. Not to be scoffed at!
For a few weeks, a number of quaint wooden stalls transform the city centre into a picturesque village revolving around the theme of Christmas. This magnificent market is sited in Birmingham’s emblematic Victoria Square – the heart of the city, with its Town Hall and Council House – as well as in Chamberlain Square and Centenary Square. As befits the occasion, Christmas lights and decoration are very much in evidence there.
So, what can visitors expect to find in the market? First, all kinds of Christmas decoration and gift objects, most of them hand made, such as wooden toys, candles and dolls. A large portion of the market is dedicated to craftwork sourced both locally and abroad.
Additionally, in line with German Christmas markets, fair-goers can spice up their visit by trying some of the German and Austrian culinary delicacies on offer: German sausage, pretzels, schnitzel, German beer, like weissbier (wheat beer), the popular mulled wine known as glühwein and hot chocolate. The market also offers attractions, ideal when accompanied by children, and the atmosphere is gingered up by live music.
More Christmas Shopping
In you haven’t had enough with just the market and require a stiffer spot of Christmas shopping, Birmingham is the perfect place to splash out. Here are some relevant recommendations:
Bullring. the city’s shopping area par excellence. It runs from New Street to St Martin’s Church and features no fewer than 160 shops, as well as two department stores. You are unlikely to remain impassive at the sight of the stunningSelfridgesbuilding, designed by the Future Systems architects studio and a veritable icon of the city.
Jewellery Quarter. As its name indicates, this is where jewellery business are concentrated. Here, 40% of the United Kingdom’s jewellery is produced. Located in downtown Birmingham, it boasts a tradition going back several centuries. The quarter houses some 100 retail outlets where you can purchase both new pieces and vintage jewels by weight.
Great Western Arcade. A shopping arcade located between Colmore Row and Temple Row, in the heart of the city. One of its major attractions are the premises themselves, as the stores are housed in an elegant Victorian building.
Custard Factory. Enthusiasts of things original and striking will find themselves at home on these premises, the former Bird’s Custard factory, situated in the industrial district of Digbeth. The interior is taken up artists’ and creatives’ studios, side by side with shops and bars where you can take a breather. There is a grand total of 30 stores displaying the latest trends in fashion, vintage garments, contemporary jewellery, artworks, bicycles, skateboards and many other things.
Mailbox. If exclusive design and luxury brands are for you, look no further than this shopping area located in Commercial Street. This complex includes the BBC Birmingham studios, the Harvey Nichols luxury department store, and two hotels. The back of the building, which gives onto a canal, is full of terraces with bars and restaurants for you to relax in after all your hectic shopping.
Ready for a Christmas shopping spree in Birmingham? Check out your flights here.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
Top 10 Pavilions at Expo Milano 2015
Expo Milano 2015 is in full swing, after more than seven years’ preparation. Going back over 160 years, this is one of the longest-standing international events. The central theme for this edition is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, covering the fields of technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity as related to food and diet. After touring the exhibition site for several days, we have drawn up a selection of the 10 best pavilions. This was no easy task, as this year there are over 145 participating countries.
10. Mexican Pavilion
The Mexican pavilion, designed by the Loguer Design firm, features an external structure in the shape of a large corn cob. The interior replicates to scale the agricultural irrigation system applied in the Mexican Basin during the reign of King Nezahualcóyotl, a veritable achievement in sustainability which involved harnessing the environment without degrading it.
9. Spanish Pavilion
Designed by the firm, B720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos. In an event of this order, which promotes healthy eating, the Mediterranean diet takes centre stage. The Spanish Pavilion combines the structure of a greenhouse with that of a traditional granary. On display in the latter is produce used in regional cuisine, as well as the processes involved in food growing and production.
8. Italian Pavilion
The Italian Pavilion, designed by Nemesi & Partners Srl, Proger SpA and BMS Progetti Srl, connects up with the various exhibition areas, the auditorium and the conference halls. The building is well worth visiting, the axes of which are fused with the structure itself. Here, too, the architecture is sustainable, based on evocative avenues and the use of new technologies.
7. China Pavilion
The undulating Chinese Pavilion was created by a consortium of Tsinghua University, the Beijing Qingshang Environmental & Architectural Design Institute, and the New York Studio Link-Arc team. Based on the theme, "Land of Hope, Food for Life", it showcases this huge nation’s progress in feeding its people through agriculture and distribution. The interior features a stunning field created by LEDs, simulating cultivation according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
6. Austrian Pavilion
This is actually a lush forest, located in the open air, enabling visitors to wander among the foliage and breathe fresh air. The leafy vegetation sets up a microclimate so that, although uncovered, the shade provided by the trees endows the structure with a temperature five degrees lower than the surrounding area. The forest generates enough oxygen for 1,800 visitors every hour.
5. Ecuador Pavilion
This is one of the most widely acclaimed projects among both the critics and the public at large, the work of the Spanish studio, Zorrozúa y Asociados. The theme, "Journey to the Center of Life", is implemented to perfection on the facade of the Ecuador Pavilion, as are others, such as the opportunities provided by the agricultural sector in terms of sustainable development, common welfare, the fight against hunger and feeding the world’s cultures and ethnic groups. A prominent feature are the curtains covering the whole building, the work of KriskaDECOR. This is the first time the whole surface of a pavilion has been clad with curtains.
4. German Pavilion
This pavilion is known as the “Fields of Ideas”. You can’t get more German than that, can you? Architectural devices have been used to reflect Germany’s rich, natural landscapes, including sinuous curves, a huge green canopy and enormous solar trees which produce energy using organic photovoltaic technology. We followed a route through the “sources of nutrition” – water, soil, climate and biodiversity – before arriving at the “Garden of Ideas”. The pavilion has numerous secluded spots for relaxing and taking in the landscapes and live music, DJ sessions and other shows.
3. Brazil Pavilion
Here, architecture and stage scenery are combined to provide visitors with an experience of Brazilian values. Implemented very successfully is the idea of a soft, decentralised, flexible network pervading the whole structure. According to its artificers, it stands for the country’s pluralism. Set in the middle of 130 other buildings, the Brazil Pavilion is a good place to take a breather – we took one – by way of a public square that attracts passers-by.
2. United Arab Emirates Pavilion
Designed by the iconic architectural studio, Foster + Partners, it features tall, undulating walls reflecting the UAE’s desert landscapes. This structure is built to provide a cool interior, as the 12-metre-high walls protect against the sun and set up shaded walkways for visitors. Strolling along them led us to the open-air exhibition areas, ending in a striking gold auditorium.
1. United Kingdom Pavilion
For us, the stand-out UK Pavilion is the most spectacular of them all for its originality and the way the theme has been implemented in actuality. Designed by the British artist, Wolfgang Buttress, it is strikingly reminiscent of a honeycomb. Visitors to the pavilion follow the path of a bee, winding their way through a field of flowers, to the heart of the bee hive. Sounds and visual signs are synchronised in real time to an actual bee-hive in the United Kingdom. The sounds emitted by the queen bee can be heard throughout the exhibition and the light provided by LEDs swells in response to an increase in the activity of the bees.
Don’t miss out on Milan. What better way to discover the present and future of many of the world’s nations than by visiting a Universal Exhibition? Come and check out our flights here.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
Images by Expo Milano 2015more info