When you think of Manchester, you think of soccer. Has the city with Manchester United and Manchester City but two top clubs to offer. And then Manchester is known for a second thing: For the many music groups that have formed here. Among them, Oasis, Simply Red and Take That. Some may now assume that this is all there is to it.
But far from it, this once dingy industrial city has become an architectural and cultural mecca. With a lively, young scene and prices far below those in London or Brighton. Here are 5 Machester travel tips and insider advice for your visit.
Manchester travel tips – sights, sightseeing and food
Manchester insider tips – The trendy Northern Quarter
"Always look up" – if you heed this advice, you will be thrilled. For "above" the brick-colored drabness of the Northern Quarter unfolds a beauty of its own. Giant murals adorn the fronts of the former factories: pastel violets and colorful songbirds compete with the blue of the sky.
Sunlight adds a friendly touch to the wild mix of old and young, design and decay, steel, glass and brick. The Northern Quarter is a chaotic jumble of different architectural styles and epochs. Since there are hardly any building restrictions in Great Britain, old factory buildings are embellished with modern design elements. New buildings are being erected next to demolished barracks. And in between there are pubs and restaurants everywhere.
The good 100.000 of the city's students eat Indian and Pakistani food here – it's tasty and affordable. Legendary are the pubs of the neighborhood, where the creative people of the city meet on weekends. For example, the "Dry" bar: It was founded in 1989 by the band New Order and is now considered an institution.
Manchester travel tips – shopping at Afflecks
Far away from malls and pedestrian zones lies the crazy-lovable "Afflecks" in the Northern Quarter. If you are looking for the soul of the city, you might find it in this place. Even the facade is a work of art: large, silver mosaics recall the city's famous music groups. Inside, the former warehouse offers five floors of vintage record stores, whimsical gifts and provocative fashion A la Vivian Westwood.
Designers sell designs here that celebrities wear to premieres and housewives wear to weddings. In the secular working-class city, shopping is a substitute religion – at least that's what the wicked say. And immediately name the prophetess of the new religion: Victoria Beckham. Before the ex-Spice girl became a famous designer, she lived in Manchester with footballer husband David. During this time, she was regularly spotted at Afflecks: In search of new evening wear and inspiration for her own designs.
The "Afflecks" is just one example of the modern use of historic factory buildings. It is always worth taking a look at the former production halls and warehouses of the cotton industry, as many of them now house museums, cultural centers and artists' studios.
Manchester travel tips – encounter Friedrich Engels
Surprisingly, one comes across German traces in many places in Manchester. Until the beginning of the First World War, the city had a large German community, which excelled especially in music, medicine and universities. Today, there is a special tour dedicated to German heritage: the "Germanchestertour". The tour focuses on a man who was significantly influenced by Manchester and in turn gave the city identity and pride: Frederick Engels.
Engels' father had sent him to Manchester in 1842 to complete his commercial training at the local branch of the firm. But the bourgeois father could not have sent the critical thinker to a more inappropriate place: Manchester was considered in the mid-19. The city was a center of early capitalism in the late nineteenth century and was nicknamed "Cottonopolis" because of its many cotton mills. Thousands and thousands of workers toiled here in terrible conditions and lived in slums.
The disastrous living conditions of the textile workers were to shape Engel's worldview forever. Especially since he was privately exposed to what later became known as "Manchester capitalism" through his girlfriend, who came from an Irish working-class family. Engels described his impressions in a book: "The Situation of the Working Class in England".
The work dates from 1845 and is considered a "masterpiece of ecological analysis" by UNESCO. Even though Manchester has changed a lot since Engels' time, there are still places that look the same as before: for example Chetham's – a beautiful old library that is closely linked to Engels.
Manchester travel tips – The oldest library in the country
Visitors enter the library's reading room through a narrow corridor lined to the left and right by hundreds of books. The old wooden floor creaks with every step. The walls are covered with dark wood. And above the discarded fireplace hangs a large oil painting. Next to it richly decorated crests – painted red and gold.
The wonderfully old-fashioned place could serve as the backdrop for Harry Potter's wizarding school Hogwarts. Engels used to sit and work here in an alcove between centuries-old books – occasionally also together with Karl Marx. Engels' place of work can be visited today and visitors are allowed to sit at the very table that Engels used to use. By the way, the entrance to the library is free of charge.
Manchester travel tips – On stadium tour in Old Trafford
Of course, Manchester cannot do without soccer. And Manchester United offers very entertaining stadium tours in the home stadium of the club: Glittering trophies. Old black-and-white photographs and a sea of red jerseys, scarves and caps. Already the visit to the museum of the stadium makes the heart of every soccer fan beat faster.
The visitors get really euphoric inside Old Trafford. Because on the stadium tour they are allowed into the heart of the facility and even enter the players' locker rooms. Only the pitch is off-limits during the tours. However, in very special cases, the employees do make an exception once in a while. Uwe Seeler was such an exception.
He was recognized by one of the guides during a regular tour and was allowed to re-enter the "hallowed turf". During his active time he had played here so successfully that he is unforgotten even in the soccer city of Manchester.
The guest post on Manchester travel tips is by Antje Zimmermann. The travel journalist and book author recently started running the blog . In the Weltenkundler she tells new, fresh stories from NRW, Germany and the world: country trips & city trips that inspire!