Manchester is the fastest-growing metropolis in the United Kingdom and the country’s third most-visited by foreign tourists. A city founded in the first century A.D., Manchester is steeped in history. If you’re going to join the 900,000 foreigners who visit this city each year, don’t miss these amazing historical sites. When you’re about to search for hotels on Venere.com, try to find ones close to these locations!
In 79 A.D., the Romans built a fort on this location. They called it Mamucium, or Mancunium, and it’s from this fort that the modern British city of Manchester takes its name. The civilian settlement that grew up around this fort in Roman times eventually became Manchester. Visitors to Castlefield can see some of the Roman fort’s reconstructed foundations and walls.
The Castlefield district has been significant in the modern era as well. The first industrial canal opened here in the 1760s as did the world’s oldest canal warehouse. Castlefield was the terminus for the world’s first passenger railway and the site of the first railroad warehouse in 1831.
Construction of the Manchester Cathedral began in the 1420s, and, despite the damage the cathedral sustained from bombings in the 20th century, large parts of it still date back to that era. Many of the cathedral’s stained-glass windows were installed during the late 20th century and early 21st century, as replacements for Victorian windows destroyed during the Manchester Blitz of 1940 and an IRA bombing in 1996.
Along with extensive historical documents and archives dating back to the early 15th century when construction of the cathedral began, Manchester Cathedral is also home to some 30 misericords, or small shelves installed on the underside of folding chairs to give worshippers something to lean on during lengthy prayers. These misericords date back to the 1500s and are considered some of the finest of their kind in Europe. One of them contains the United Kingdom’s oldest backgammon reference.
Manchester Town Hall
Construction of this Victorian-era neo-Gothic structure was completed in 1877, making it one of the more recent stops on your historical tour of Manchester. The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed London’s Natural History Museum. It remains the ceremonial headquarters of the Manchester City Council and houses several local government bodies.
It took nine years and 14 million bricks to build the Manchester Town Hall. It’s an excellent example of the Victorian-Gothic-revival style, which was fashionable at the time of its construction. Its walls are decorated with statues of historical figures important to Manchester.
Chetham’s Library is the United Kingdom’s oldest free public library. Chetham’s Hospital and Chetham’s School of Music are also located here. Humphrey Chetham established the school, and its accompanying library, in his will in 1653.
Chetham’s Library contains over 100,000 printed volumes. Sixty-thousand of these books were published before 1851, and some date back as far as the 16th and 17th centuries. The library also contains extensive collections of broadsides, journals, periodicals and ephemera dating back to the dawn of the printing era. The Baronial Hall itself, which houses the library, dates back to the 15th century. Frederich Engels and Karl Marx once discussed politics and economics in this library’s venerable halls.
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church
Also known as “The Hidden Gem,” St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is the oldest post-Reformation Catholic Church in England. It was built in 1794 and had to be restored in the 19th century after an ill-advised amateur refurbishment project led to the collapse of the roof and extensive damage to the building’s interior.
Though the church’s plain red-brick exterior is less than inspiring, its interior contains a finely carved marble high altar decorated with statues of the Virgin Mary and Saints Patrick, Stephen, John, Peter, Augustine, Joseph and Hilda. The church also contains exquisite modern paintings of the Stations of the Cross, done in the expressionist style by Norman Adams.
Visitors to Manchester shouldn’t miss the city’s many historical sites, including the site of the original Roman fort around which the city grew, its medieval cathedral and its Victorian neo-Gothic town hall. Don’t forget to roam the halls of Chetham’s Library and find out why St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Mulberry Street is such a hidden gem.
About the Author: Writer and blogger Louise Vinciguerra grew up in Brooklyn. She now lives in Rome, where she loves working with Web content, gardening and traveling.