Affectionately dubbed the “London of the North,” Manchester is often regarded as Britain’s second capital city, with a history of grit, glory and grandeur. Cotton mills first put it on the world map in the 18th century, when Manchester became Europe’s first Industrial Revolution-era boomtown. Although badly damaged by the Blitz in World War II and the deindustrialization of the 1970s and 80s, the city’s later recovery and urban renaissance earned its own nickname: “The Manchester Miracle”.

Mancunians, as the city’s inhabitants are known, are fiercely proud of their history and the city’s transformation into one of the British Isles’ great cultural and sporting capitals.

In the hometown of two of the world’s most famous football teams, awash in historic sights, unique museums and one-of-a-kind cafes and boutiques that reflect the local culture, you won’t run out of interesting things to do in Manchester.

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Historic Sights

Long before David Beckham first scored a winning goal for Manchester United Football Club, the city was being settled by Roman conquerors. In Castlefield Urban Heritage Park, you can see the remaining stonework of the town’s first foundations, laid nearly 2000 years ago in 79 AD. Skilfully reconstructed replicas help bring Mamacium, the original ancient settlement, to life. For real history buffs, this has to be one of the top things to see in Manchester.

Manchester’s Gothic Cathedral has to rate among the most iconic attractions in Manchester. This 13th century beauty served as the city’s focal point before its evolution from medieval market town to industrial metropolis. While the original Victorian stained glass was destroyed in the Blitz, the fascinating 16th century collection of misericords, also known as ‘mercy seats’—used to support the old or infirm during a standing prayer—remains one of the best in Europe. Even among the many great architectural things to see in Manchester, one of the biggest “wow” moments must be the reading room at the circa-1900 John Rylands Library. Fans of the library liken it to a cathedral with books.

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