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Discover Manchester through its Architecture

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The city is filled to the brim with incredible buildings both historical and hyper modern, read on to discover our favourite architecture in Manchester…

Manchester is a city that is rich both in its industrial heritage and in a variety of architectural styles. It is the place where the Gothic (think The John Rylands Library) is juxtaposed by the daringly modern (namely the Beetham Tower). Manchester’s architecture documents its proud history in music, politics, science and art and its transition from the cotton industry to the modern metropolis it is today.  

If you happen to have a spare afternoon, why not take a tour of Manchester through its architecture? Here are seven of the best buildings that make up the city’s dramatically evolving skyline. 

The Beetham Tower

Image © travel.sygic.com

301 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQ  

Jumping straight into the modern world, the Beetham Tower is a skyscraper in Deansgate that was completed in 2006 and designed by architect Ian Simpson. Standing at an impressive 168 metres tall and 48 floors high, this modern Mancunian piece of architectural magnificence is hard to miss, and its price point is a show stopper too costing a whopping £150 million to build.  

The Beetham Tower is home to both the Hilton Hotel (which occupies 22 floors) and luxury apartments. It boasts spectacular views of the city which can be enjoyed from the Cloud 23 bar. If you don’t have time to visit- don’t fret- the imposing tower is easily visible from much of the city.  


The John Rylands Library

Image © Facebook via @JohnRylandsLibrary

150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH 

The John Rylands Library, also in Deansgate, was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, John Rylands. Built in the neo-Gothic style and designed by the architect Basil Champneys; the library first opened to the public in 1900. The library is home to an incredible collection of rare books and manuscripts. Open to the public and free to visit, it’s definitely worth checking off of your list of impressive architecture in Manchester. For more information click here


Manchester Town Hall

Image © visitmanchester.com

Ground Floor, Town Hall Extension, Mount Street Entrance, Albert Square, Manchester, M2 5DB 

One of the most iconic landmarks in the city, like The John Rylands Library, Manchester Town Hall was built in a beautiful gothic style and completed in 1877. It’s also conveniently located in Deansgate so after your trip to the library the Town Hall is definitely a sight worth soaking in.  

The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse who successfully combined the ceremonial and pragmatic requirements of the time. The interior features the British pre-Raphaelite For Madox Brown’s The Manchester Murals which detail the history of the city.  

Unfortunately, the town hall is closed for refurbishment until 2024, but honestly the exterior is rich enough without worrying about missing what’s inside bearing sculptures of the Roman General Agricola, Henry III, Elizabeth I and St. George.  


Manchester Central Library

Image © librarylive.co.uk

St. Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 5PD 

The neighbouring St. Peter's Square is home to Manchester Central Library. Designed by E. Vincent Harris and completed in 1934, the building is somewhat reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome. The building is a neoclassical rotunda with an attached Corinthian portico entrance. The library is open to the public, and the grand reading room is well worth a look. 


Manchester Art Gallery

Image © artuk.org

Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3JL 

Just across the square on Mosley Street, is the Manchester Art Gallery. It was initiated in 1823 by artists as an educational institution to ensure that the city and all its people grow with creativity, imagination, health and productivity- not a bad ethos right? 

The gallery was designed by Sir Charles Barry in the Greek Ionic style. The impressive facade is echoed by the outstanding collection of artworks from Pre-Raphaelite paintings to objects of craft and design. It’s a free and open space promoting art with the means of social change. So, whether you’re just passing by or fancy checking out the inside, the Manchester Art Gallery is sure to catch your eye.  


Manchester Cathedral

Image © visitmanchester.com

Victoria Street, Manchester, M3 1SX 

A short fifteen minute walk, takes you to Manchester Cathedral. The Grade I listed building, conceived in the Perpendicular Gothic style, can be traced back to the medieval period, however it was not until 1847 that it became a cathedral under the creation of a new Manchester diocese. However, much of the Victorian stained glass was destroyed during the Manchester Blitz of 1940, and later by an IRA bomb in 1996. To commemorate the latter, the Healing Window was installed in 2004. The Cathedral is open to the public and with free admission. 


The Hacienda

Image © Flickr via @larosecarmine

15 Whitworth Street W, Manchester 

Although the building was demolished to make way for apartments (so you’ll have to use your imagination here a little), the site was once home to the infamous nightclub and music venue The Hacienda which opened its doors in 1982. The club established itself in the 'Madchester' scene of the 1980s and 1990s, and was synonymous with rave culture and acid house. It was largely bankrolled by the record label Factory Records (an homage to Manchester's industrial past) and the band New Order. Nevertheless, the apartment complex not only retained The Hacienda name and the yellow and black branding, but it also has paid tribute to the many artists that performed there - Fatboy Slim, Oasis and Madonna to name a few. If you approach the building from the Rochdale Canal towpath, you can see the timeline artwork. 


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