Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham is shaking
off its dreary reputation as a manufacturing city to reveal a
cosmopolitan world city. Situated in the geographical heart of
England, the UK's second-largest metropolis is a mixed bag of
cultures, dotted with a colourful array of continental eateries,
modern shopping arcades, sweeping plazas and vibrant markets.
Much of the area now covered by Birmingham's metropolis was
originally the northern corner of the ancient Forest of Arden.
Birmingham came to life in the mid-1800s as a major manufacturing
town owing to the large deposits of exploitable coal and iron
nearby. Despite heavy bomb damage during World War II's 'Birmingham
Blitz', much industrial heritage is still present in 'Britain's
canal city', which has more even waterways than Venice. Built over
200 years ago, the canals, which once bore the raw materials that
would spawn the Industrial Revolution, are now principally used for
pleasure, and provide a moody backdrop to the historic buildings,
restaurants and pubs that site alongside the water, most notably at
charming Brindley Place and the Gas Street Basin.
Birthplace of the likes of JRR Tolkien, Robert Plant, Black
Sabbath and The Streets, the Brummies have done their fair share of
creative contribution. An impressive live music scene now
illuminates the evenings and an exhaustive listing of events can be
found in the free fortnightly publication,
A rich bounty of cuisine and culture make up the
world-renowned Balti Triangle, and the curvaceous Selfridges store
with its mottled futuristic 'skin' is not to be missed at the Bull
Ring centre, a commercial hub that has been in use since the Middle
Ages. For a breath of fresh air, head to one of Birmingham's five
Green Flag-status parks, and enjoy the shade of the city's dense
oak tree cover.