Birmingham: Britain’s Hidden Jewel
When pondering places to see in Europe you might consider Paris, London or Venice. However, there is one district in Britain that may just be Europe’s best kept secret; their hidden jewel, so to speak. Birmingham, Britain has the hustle and bustle of London, more tranquil trees than Paris and a canal system larger than that of Venice.
With a population pushing one million, one would think Birmingham would be congested and crowded. However, the wide streets that border the canals offer plenty of walking space. While roaming the streets and gazing over the waterways, you will find plenty of bars, pubs and small cafes to relieve aching feet. Duck in and out of quaint shops for some retail therapy and at the end of the day unwind in your pick of some of the best hotels Birmingham has to offer.
One must-see in Birmingham is the Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses. Beautiful to behold, these grounds offer more than just botanical wonders. A fantastic assortment of wildlife can be found within the gardens thanks to the semi-natural habitats such as the wetland walk. Also, with all the flowers and trees, one can expect an abundance of colourful butterflies and birds. Dotted throughout Birmingham are many peaceful, lovely parks wonderful for people watching or just relaxing.
The mixture of old and new architecture in Birmingham adds to its charm. No where can this be seen more beautifully than in the heart of Birmingham, at Victoria Square. In the middle of the square is a giant fountain comically known as “The Floozy in the Jacuzzi.” This modern beauty sits in front of two older beauties. The Council House is a looming yet graceful Baroque masterpiece while adjacent to it is the Roman temple inspired Town Hall. New world and old world architecture exists side by side making Birmingham a true sight to see.
The historian and romantic in your family will love the museums, not the least of which is the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery located in Victoria Square. Free to the public, the BMAG offers artwork from many notable artists, such as Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Holman Hunt. It also has collections of ceramics, silver, sculptures and significant archaeological finds. From mummies to masterpieces, this museum has it all.
On the more eclectic side, Birmingham also offers a couple of specialty shops sure to appeal to younger crowds. The Diskery is a favourite music store that has a large selection of records that will make any vinyl lover salivate. It has an especially large jazz selection and also sells antiques and children’s toys. If you love comics and movies, Nostalgia and Comics is a must-see. In business since 1978, they have a good selection of new comics, toys and movie memorabilia that includes Austin Powers, Star Wars and Star Trek.
Young or old, Birmingham has an appeal for anyone, anywhere, in any stage of life.