It's hard not be sniffy about this bland and generic pedestrian shopping street. There is nothing here that cannot be found in a thousand other British towns and cities. This homogenised thoroughfare of retail naff and fast-food detritus also attracts street vendors selling tat accompanied by the obligatory racket of CD hawking, "Peruvian" pan-pipe bands. Be on your guard too for pick-pockets during the busy weekends.
The Arndale Centre
Running parallel with Market Street
is the huge Arndale Centre shopping mall
. Partially damaged, though unfortunately not destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1996 its outward appearance has since improved slightly, it has to be said that it still really is mutton dressed as mutton. Like parallel Market Street, the shops inside are unremarkable and ho-hum, and finding something half-decent to eat that doesn't come in a carton is tricky. Try the nearby Northern Quarter
for a far more interesting shopping experience.
, while inoffensive, can be quite a disappointment to those used to seeing the ecclesiastical soaring spectacles of other European cities. It did receive a direct hit from the Luftwaffe during World War II, which explains why many of its fittings and windows have had to be replaced.
Unlike Canterbury, Durham and York, Manchester was never really a destination for pilgrims during the Middle Ages, and as such never gained the reputation or income to get bigger and more impressive than the 19th century cathedral now on show. However inside you’ll find some 15th century wood carvings alongside examples of 14th century structural architecture. It also plays occasional host as a venue to some rather wonderful, quirky and eclectic concerts.
In its day Manchester was quite an important Roman centre during their occupation of Britain; indeed, the name "Manchester" comes from the Roman, "Mamucium", or breast-shaped hill. Unfortunately, unlike in York, Chester or Bath, little remains of their time here. Castlefield (the clue is in the name), the once Roman epicentre of Manchester, has all but lost its ancient heritage. All that's left are one or two ditches, grassy mounds and some underwhelming wall remnants.
A recreated gate has been built and there are some information boards detailing the occupation, but there is little wow factor. Alternatively, there's some fascinating history of the Victorian period right next door in the shape of a 19th-century superhighway the canal. A one-minute walk will take you to what is considered to be Britain's first purpose-built canal. Still in regular use by pleasure craft, this whole area has been regenerated with the former warehouses now sympathetically converted to apartments and bars.
Don't arrive in Manchester and expect to walk in to Old Trafford
to watch Manchester United
play. Tickets are hard to come by though a combination of recession hit punters and stay-away protests against the teams current owners has meant the 2010/11 season may be the year to finally get in. If you do want to see some top quality football, try at Eastlands Stadium
instead. Home to the 2002 Commonwealth Games and Manchester City since, the aspiring world dominators and world's richest football club usually has spare seats for games unless it’s against local rival are one of the ‘bigger’ clubs.
Once the world's most famous club, the Hacienda
has become an apartment block with only a small plaque to commemorate its former glory and purpose. Boo.
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Next: Near the beaten track