Birmingham

Birmingham by CC user Phil Dolby on FlickrIntroduction While Birmingham is the second largest city in Britain, it often gets overshadowed by its big brother further south. Located in the Midlands of England, it was situated at the heart of the emergence of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, which led to it having a blue collar identity that has caused it to being snubbed by some. Those that look closer though will find a city that has embraced its hard working past and its status as the centre of England’s chocolate and luxury goods industry. Combine that with cultural institutions that have been growing markedly over the past few decades, and you have a hidden gem that is just waiting to be admired by a traveler just like yourself. Birmingham back to backs by CC user Tony Hisgett on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

Birmingham’s claim to fame has long revolved around its luxury goods industry, as it retains a 40% share of all jewelry made in Europe.

Before touring the rest of the district that gives this attraction its name, make The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter your first stop, as it chronicles the history and role that this city has played in the production of the shiny, pretty things that we all love to receive as gifts from our significant others.

Free of charge for visitors, this place represents a great value for those watching their travel budget closely, as you will touring a gold jeweler’s workshop that has been preserved perfectly after the owners retired from the business in 1981.

Tools, machines and personal effects from that age remain in the back, allowing you to glimpse back into the past when this shop was producing shiny baubles for those with money to burn.

This city was also involved in a whole host of other blue collar industries that sprung up in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.

In order to house the working classes economically, townhomes without any space between them were built throughout the city, though some did have a communal courtyard.

The Birmingham Back to Backs were the last preserved example of this type of building, as it managed to dodge a date with the bulldozer that most others succumbed to in the urban renewal projects of the 1960’s.

Today, volunteers have recreated how life was in these modest dwellings, with examples ranging from the 1840’s to the 1970’s.

If you have a craving to consume some fine culture while in town, the Birmingham Hippodrome is a fine place to satisfy your need for dance and/or theatre productions. Attracting over 600,000 paying customers every year, it is one of the most popular venues for touring acts in the United Kingdom, making it a great place to check out if you are looking for a quality performing act.

Winterbourne Botanic Gardens by CC user Allen Brewer on FlickrOther Attractions Those looking to learn more about the marine animals that inhabit the waters off the coasts of the British Isles and elsewhere will enjoy a visit to the National Sea Life Centre. Its one million litre ocean tank contains sharks, turtles and other sea life that make it the perfect place to go if you are traveling with children, as a survey commissioned by the Good Britain Guide named it one of the nation’s best family attractions. Chocolate lovers will be in heaven once they discover that Birmingham is home to Cadbury World, an interactive experience that profiles how the British chocolatiers of the same name create the sweet treats that are savored by people the world over. Over 14 zones, visitors will learn the history of chocolate, the story of how Cadbury came to be, and how its trademark products are made. Finally, if you find yourself in Birmingham during the warmer months of the year, and you love spending time outdoors, taking a stroll through the Winterbourne Botanic Garden will be the perfect way to take a great from its busy city centre. Spread over seven acres on a former estate of a member of England‘s upper classes, it is a rare example of a 20th century Victorian style villa garden. Both the red brick mansion and the gardens themselves are open to the public, with the home having been restored to its Victorian period heyday. After exploring the varied gardens (which includes an arid house for desert plants) outside, be sure to spend some time in the former dining room for a spot of high tea.