Manchester’s reputation as a nightlife spot is known worldwide, but it’s also a place that’s packed with cultural points of interest, from the Victoria Baths in Chorlton, to the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Macclesfield. If you’re planning a trip to Manchester, here are 11 local attractions that should be on your list.
Social revolutionary Friedrich Engels was responsible for co-authoring the Communist Manifesto with German philosopher Karl Marx, part of which was penned in Manchester. Engels lived in the city on and off for almost 30 years and this Soviet-era statue erected in his honour was relocated from Ukraine and brought to the UK by Turner Prize nominated artist Phil Collins in 2017.
Over in Macclesfield you’ll find the Jodrell Bank Observatory, which houses The Lovell Telescope, a local landmark that’s known worldwide for its contributions to astrology. This educational venue plays host to the forward-thinking Bluedot music and technology festival each July but you can visit its Discovery Centre daily from 10am to 5pm where you will find a cafe, interactive activities and a space exhibition teaching kids about the wonders of the universe.
These days, Castlefield is a thriving hub of bars, modern office blocks and cool restaurants, but thousands of years ago it was home to a fully functional Roman fort. Mamucium – as it was called – lay undisturbed until the city’s industrial boom in the late 18th century and today you’ll find its surviving remnants carefully preserved in the centre of town. Completely free to explore, you can see what’s left of the fort wall alongside its gatehouse and ancillary buildings amid Castlefield Urban Heritage Park.
This bronze statue of Manchester-born suffragette and women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst is a relatively new addition to the city’s cultural sightseeing scene. Officially unveiled in 2018 in St Peter’s Square, it’s one of just two statues celebrating influential women in Manchester (the other is Queen Victoria in Piccadilly Gardens) and was selected by the voting public. Stood atop of a stool and addressing the crowd, Pankhurst is depicted doing what she did best – rallying crowds and making her voice heard.
Another of the city’s Grade II listed buildings, Manchester Free Trade Hall has a story that’s truly iconic. Built around 1853, it survived the Manchester Blitz to become one of the city’s leading music venues. It’s the spot where Bob Dylan was infamously labelled ‘Judas’ in 1966 by a punter who was particularly miffed at the musician’s decision to ditch folk in favour of electric rock. These days, it’s a swanky Radisson Hotel but the opportunity to drop by for a quick photo is not to be missed.