Birmingham is an historic city and there are plenty of sights and places of interest that shouldn’t be missed by visitors. The sheer variety of interests and attractions in Birmingham means that there is sure to be something to suit everyone’s tastes. The city of Birmingham has a rich cultural heritage dating from the middle ages, to its Victorian nomination as the workshop of the world. Commonwealth immigrants who began coming to the city in the nineteen fifties and sixties have added their own culture and heritage, making the social and cultural aspects of Birmingham into a colourful and eclectic mix.
If you like to shop then you should take a trip to the city’s famous Bullring centre. The reason that the Bullring has featured so prominently is because it is where the town really began later deemed a city by Queen Victoria towards the end of the nineteenth century. It is not just the Bullring centre that has been given a completely new look, there is a brand new Matchbox centre and the old markets and the jewellery quarter have been given a new lease of life. The Bullring is home to more than a hundred shops and cafes and you won’t have to worry about parking either as there are several thousand parking spaces available.
Birmingham is the UK’s second city and it is becoming increasingly more famous for its art and culture. Some critics have said that Birmingham has the most eclectic arts scene, spread across the cultural spectrum. In recent years Birmingham City Council has invested in some of the best venues around and these inevitably attract the best artists, writers and performers. The galleries, theatres and rock and pop venues provide diverse and quality arts and entertainments, and this is boosting the international cultural profile of the city.
Visitors to Birmingham have a wide variety of interests, from architecture and stately homes, to museums, galleries and zoos, there is something for everyone. One of the more popular buildings dates back to Tudor times. Birmingham’s Blakesly Hall is a great example of the Tudor and early Stuart country homes. Built in 1590 for a Birmingham gentleman farmer, the house reflects the lifestyle of wealthy families during the late sixteenth and very early seventeenth centuries.
Probably everyone has heard of the National Exhibition Centre, which is the largest such building in Europe and hosts various art, home and cultural events throughout the year. The exhibition centre also hosts plenty of live music performances throughout the year and is one of Birmingham’s most popular attractions as is the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is noted for having the world’s largest collection of pre-Raphaelite art and there are items reflecting the cultural and social history of the city housed in its Victorian buildings. Some of the exhibitions, for example the industrial ones are permanent and the building’s Edwardian tea rooms are well worth a visit. Birmingham is also home to the Ikon, one of the foremost modern art venues in Europe.
Birmingham’s jewellery quarter dates back more than 200 years and there is now a purpose built visitor centre with exhibits and information on the history of the quarter. The centre has a great programme of events and there is also a visitors’ shop and tea rooms.
The Botanical Gardens in Birmingham covers more than fifteen acres and has a tropical house with a lily pool and some tropical vegetation as well as orchids and palm trees. There is a beautiful rose garden, a rock garden as well as a museum and adventure playground for children. The Birmingham nature centre is home to more than 130 species of animals in natural habitats, the farm also houses a good number of farm animals and there is an on site visitor’s centre and café. A visit to the nature centre is a great day out for all the family. Sutton Park dates back to Tudor times and its bogs and woodlands are largely untouched and only seven miles from the city, the park has several restaurants and a visitor’s centre and is well worth seeing.
The Cadbury works attracts many visitors each year and the famous garden village, known as Cadbury World was first set up in Bourneville by George Cadbury in the late nineteenth century. You could also visit Birmingham’s Electric Cinema, which is the oldest surviving traditional cinema in the UK.
Birmingham is great for theatre goers and the Alexandra Theatre and the Birmingham Hippodrome together is the backdrop for some of the finest plays, comedies, musicals and other live performances. Both theatres attract large audiences all year round and have made Birmingham the city for new and up and coming writers and performers.
Birmingham is great for shopping. Apart from the famous Bullring centre and jewellery quarter the city has a number of markets, of which the rag market is the oldest. The Victorian arcades in Birmingham are home to a variety of independent clothing boutiques chocolatiers and jewellery outlets. Birmingham’s New Street has been given a face lift with tree lined avenues and coffee shops. The Old Matchbox centre has been revitalised and Birmingham is the first city outside of London to have a branch of Selfridges.
If you have had your fill of culture during the day then you may want to sample something of Birmingham’s night life. If you are some way off the 18-25 age group, then the Mailbox area is just ten minutes away from the city centre. Both restaurants and bars are aimed at a slightly older and more up market clientele than many of the Broad Street venues. If you are hooked on Spanish food then the Estilio is a great Spanish style tapas bar. For those people who enjoy Indian food then the Mailbox area has one of Birmingham’s best curry houses the Café Lazeez, offering a modern take on many of India’s traditional dishes.