Image © Visit Manchester via Facebook

Historic Building Tour of Manchester

Holly Eliza Temple

Manchester is a city of immense history and culture – what began as an ancient Roman settlement grew into a booming city of industry with the Industrial Revolution, and is now the constantly changing metropolis we know today. With hundreds of years of industrial and cultural history behind it, sites of interest are not hard to find. Here’s an example of a tour around some of the most intriguing buildings the sprawling city has to offer.

Chetham’s Library
Long Millgate, M3 1SB

Beginning the tour on Long Millgate in Manchester’s Medieval Quarter, Chetham’s Library is the oldest public library in Britain. Founded in 1653 it has been continuously used by the public for over 350 years, and was originally built for the priests of Manchester’s Collegiate Church (now the Cathedral). The amazing building has been around since the 15th century, and visitors are free to look around by pre-booking a tour, which will include all the sights and the stories behind them, told by the library’s expert volunteers.


Image credit: Kenneth Rowlatt via Manchester Cathedral on Facebook
Manchester Cathedral
Victoria Street, M3 1SX

The Cathedral Gardens can be seen from the library, and just next door is the grand building of Manchester Cathedral, a church with a rich history. Built in 1215, extensive renovations have kept the cathedral in amazing condition, and has attracted visitors for thousands of years. Aside from routine services and concerts, the cathedral is the venue for many cultural events in the city, with its central location and depth of history. Free tours can be booked most days throughout the week. 

The Old Wellington
Cathedral Gates, M3 1SW

Just at the Cathedral Gates you’ll find The Old Wellington– the oldest pub in Manchester. Originally built in the 1500s on Market Street, the timbered pub was dismantled and moved to its new location after the 1996 Manchester bombing. The cosy pub remains a landmark of the city, and is conveniently located to enjoy a pint and a pie before continuing your tour. 


Image credit: Royal Exchange Theatre via Facebook
Royal Exchange Theatre
St Annes Square, M2 7DH

Continue down Victoria Street onto Deansgate, and you can turn off to discover St Annes Square, now a thriving shopping area of Manchester. However, it is also home to some of the city’s historical sites of interest, including St Annes Church and the Royal Exchange Theatre. The Royal Exchange of the 1800s was heavily damaged during WWII and the 1996 bombing, so the surviving site is well worth a visit. The dramatic Great Hall is a great space for drinks, lunch and shopping, with the seven-sided theatre itself being an exciting addition to the Grade II listed building.

Manchester Town Hall
Albert Square, M2 5RT

A short stroll down Cross Street brings you to Albert Square, the historical public square at the heart of the city, with Manchester’s Victorian Gothic Town Hall towering over it. Albert Square contains a number of statues and memorials, and is now not only a site of historic interest but also a venue for the city’s cultural events, including Manchester International Festival (MIF) and Christmas markets. The awe-inspiring building of the town hall is closed for restoration until 2024, but can be admired from the outside and the many bars and restaurants surrounding the square. 


Image credit: Visit Manchester via Facebook
Manchester Central Library
St Peter’s Square, M2 5PD

You’ll reach the end of this tour by turning the corner onto Mount Street and St Peter’s Square, the site of the impressive rotunda of Manchester Central Library. Opened in 1934, the public library has been transformed with new design and restoration of its original features – with its architecture often compared to Rome’s Pantheon. The interior is just as intriguing, inviting you to discover rare books, historic manuscripts and papers, or explore the prestigious reading rooms.
 
St Peter’s Square itself is a great end to this tour, with the tram network and sprawling historic streets inviting you to continue exploring the metropolis of Manchester, and its hidden historic gems.

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