The Council House (photo by ell brown)
Birmingham was established as a small farming village on the banks of the River Rea in the 7th century by the Anglo-Saxons. In the 12th century it was given a royal charter and became a market town. But it was the time of the Industrial Revolution when this small and quiet market town in the Midlands grew into the first purely industrial conurbation in England and the entire world. The other industrial towns in the country specialized in certain branches of industry, while Birmingham developed many kinds of manufacturing becoming famous as "the city of 1001 trades". It was a magnet for the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution who established here the Lunar Society with the purpose to stimulate the creation of new industrial and scientific ideas. And indeed, the first purposely built factory was opened in the city soon. The gas lighting was invented here, the first distillation of oxygen was made and steam engines were mass-produced for a first time. In the second half of the 19th century the population of Birmingham grew to more than 550 thousands.
Today it is the Britain's second most populous city with a multi-racial population of more than a million. Birmingham overcame the post-industrial misery inherited from its heyday period long time ago. At present day only the excellently organized heritage museums and the well preserved network of canals recall for its past role of a major industrial centre. The successful turn to a post-industrial economy has lead to a major renovation of the central areas, the building of the ultra-modern International Convention Centre in the centre and the large National Exhibition Centre in the suburbs, adjacent to the International Airport. The Bull Ring, which is the city’s main commercial and entertainment center, was also fully reconstructed and modernized. The City Council started series of cultural initiatives too. A subdivision of the Royal Ballet was attracted to create its constant residence in the city. A brand new concert hall was built and it became the headquarters of the local Symphony Orchestra. All of the above initiatives turned Birmingham into an attractive tourist destination, in spite of the fact that it can not boast many conventional sights.
The Bull Ring and St Martin Church
(photo by mike warren)
The main transport hub of the city is the New Street Railway Station. Here arrive and depart all inter-city trains and most of the local lines. The station is well connected to the International Airport and just a short stroll from the main Digbeth coach terminal, which is 10 minutes slow walking upwards to the Bull Ring shopping centre. Some railway lines use only the nearby Moor Street and Snow Hill station.
The main tourist office can be found right next to the Bull Ring. Another, smaller but useful one is located within a kiosk right outside of the New Street Station. Both offices offer hotel booking service without any additional fees.
Birmingham features an extensive and well organized public transportation system, comprising a dense network of railway, metro and bus lines interconnecting all areas of the city. It is recommended to get an One Day Network Card at the cost of £5.80, which is valid for all lines and all kinds of public transport. If you travel outside the peak time you can buy the analogical Daytripper for just £4.70.
Birmingham features a variety of hotels, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury. In the city centre you can find representatives of all reputable international hotel chains, from luxurious modern tower blocks to simple and much more affordable red brick buildings: Macdonald Burlington Hotel, Copthorne Hotel Birmingham and Premier Apartments. If you prefer accommodation in a more quiet part of the city and still convenient for the central area, you should book a hotel in the pleasant area around the Gas Street Basin: Novotel Birmingham Centre. If you are looking for a hotel convenient for the International Convention Centre and the nearby Indoor Arena, we can recommend you: Britannia Hotel Birmingham
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