About Birmingham




Skylines and views        


New Street Station

  Holloway Circus
Chinese Quarter

St Martin-in-the-Bullring, Selfridges, Debenham

  Grand Central, Stephenson Street   Beetham Tower, Mailbox, BBC Studios, Doctor Who exhibition
Cathedral Square
New Street
Corporation Street
  Centenary Square
Central Square
Broad Street
  Victoria Square
Chamberlain Square

St Philip's Cathedral, Grand Western Arcade, Old Square, Aston


Library of Birmingham, Hyatt Regency, Symphony Hall, ICC, Hall of Memory, Baskerville House, Alpha Tower, Westside


Town Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Council House, Chamberlain Memorial, The River, Iron:Man

Birmingham Canal Snow Hill   Digbeth

Westside district, Brindleyplace, Central Square, ICC, Clock Tower


BT Tower, St Chad's Cathedral, Colmore Row, Jewellery District

  Central Backpackers Hostel



Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery





Birmingham by night        

Digbeth, Bullring


ABOUT Birmingham:

Population: 1 111 000 (metro 3 683 000)
Tallest building:
10 Holloway Circus (130 m, 39 floors, built 2005)
Founded: 1166 (city right 1889)
Ceremonial county:
West Midlands
West Midlands
267.8 km² (urban 598.9 km²)
Year visited: April 2017


Birmingham is United Kingdom's 2nd largest city and metropolitan area, after London. The city is known for it's heavy industries and it's heavy music scence (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest), as well as its architecture, large shopping malls and its canals (Birmingham has more canals then Venice!).

Birmingham was a midsized market town in the medieval period, but grew in the 18th century's industrial revolution and enlightement. The name Birmingham derives from Beormingahām, that is Old English and means "home for the people of Beormund". In 1940-1942, more then 100 000 buildings were destroyed by German air raids and many people lost their lifes! Thus, many modern buildings were constructed after the war. Today there are many skyscrapers in the city centre, only London has more. Birmingham's inhabitants are called brummies.

Birmingham is known as a city that is not pretty, but the truth is that it is a rather attractive city today. Gone is much of the industrial feeling, even if you still feel it in many areas today. Lots of supermodern buildings with world class architecture have been built recent years, grey modernist highrises have been demolished and factories and warehouses have been transformed and polished. Today Birmingham is a mecca for shoppers!

At the Bull Ring you find large shopping malls, a market, stores and a historic church, St-Martin-in-the-Bullring. Bull Ring is the centrepiece for shopping, situated in the south edge of the city centre. Selfridges, a very large and futuristic department store, has become somewhat of a landmark building with its smooth futuristic design. The Rotunda is a circular highrise building with apartments.

The New Street Station is so futuristic that it reminds of a sci fi movie after the recent redevelopment. This railway station is situated right next to Bull Ring, and New Street, a popular pedestrian shopping street. Corporation Street is a busy shopping street, filled with large stores and modern lightrail trams. Here you find two important victorian red brick buidlings, Methodist Central Hall and the Victoria Law Courts.

At the nearby Cathedral Square, you find the St Philip's Cathedral from the 18 the century, also called the Birmingham Cathedral, built in baroque style, a churchyard and the Burnaby obelisk. Nearby, at Colmore Row, you find the beautiful Great Western Arcade, and to the north of Colmore Row, the Colmore Row Business Sistrict, where you find office highrises, skycrapers, business hotels and the Snow Hill railway station. This district is very modern and feels exactly like an American city.

The Worcester and Birmingham Canal is a very attractive area with refurbished historic buildings, locks, charming boats, cool new postmodern buildings with restaurants and entartainment and clean promenades to stroll along the water. You walk underneath roads, at canal tunnels. As I walked along the canal, there was a very narrow and dark tunnel with dripping water from above. The Brindleyplace area next to the canal is very attractive with its red brick clock tower at Central Square. Here you find the National Sea Life Centre, Royal Bank of Scotland, Orion Media, Ikon Gallery of Art and the Crescent Theatre. The ArtsFest is held here annually. The Gas Street Basin is also a popular at the canals. The International Conference Centre (ICC) with its Symphony Hall and large atrium leads to another square, Centenary Square. This very modern square in the Westside district is where you find the largest library building in Britain, the 10-storey Library of Birmingham, a high tech postmodern library building from 2013, with glass elevators, a circular atrium, a Shakespeare room and a rooftop terrace with great views. You also find the Hall of Mermory, a historic war memorial, the Baskerville House (an art deco building that formerly was the Civic Centre), the 28-storey Alpha Tower (2nd tallest skycraper, built in 1970) and the very modern glass highrise hotel, the 24-storey Hyatt Regency, that was built in 1990. BT Tower (British Telecom), a communication tower from 1969, is the tallest structure in Birmingham, at a height of 163m (the 103 Colmore Row will be 163m tall when completed though).

Victoria Square is the heart of Birmingham. Here you find the Birmingham Town Hall, a beautiful neo-classical white marble building in Roman neo-classical style, Council Hall, a very large historic building with a cupola, it includes the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The River, The Guardian and Iron:Man are interesting sculptures at the square, and New Street begins here. The art museum has great collections from all around the world, with a special section from Birmingham, beautiful mosaic windows in the original Industrial Gallery and a beautiful Edwardian teahouse. The entrance is free, and we visited the museum. The Frankfurt Christmas Market is held annually at Victoria Square.

At Holloway Circus, a large heavily trafficated roundabout at the southern edge of the city centre, is the tallest skyscraper in Birmingham, 10 Holloway Circus or Beetham Tower, a blue curved glass building with a Radisson hotel. It was built in 2005, is 130m tall to the spire and has 39 floors. Here you also find the Chinese pavilion and lions. The small Chinatown with its gate is situated right next to it. The Mailbox is a large red mixed use building, between Holloway Circus and the canals. It contains a fancy mall, a hotel, offices and the BBC Studios complete with a free Doctor Who exhibition. Next to the Mailbox is the boxy but futuristic The Cube, a residential building with Lego looking patterns. Thinktank is Birmingham's impressive interactive science museum, also with free entrance. It was built in 2001 in the Millennium Point complex.

Southeast of the city centre, a short walk from the Bullring is the post industrial Digbeth area, where I stayed and arrived by bus from Luton at the Coach Station. A police station, stores and fastfood restaurants can be found here, as well as the hostel where we stayed. Aston, a large district known for the football team Aston Villa and for Ozzy Osbourne's childhood home at 14 Lodge Road, is just North of the city centre. Jewellery District is a nice district just West of the city centre, known for its old historic building and jewelleries. In the south parts you find the University of Birmingham with the world's highest clock tower, Old Joe (about 100m tall) and Cadbury World, a chocolate factory, amusement park and exhibition.

As a post industrial city, Birmingham is a very segregated city with its share of problems, it has for long been known for its high crime rate and unemployment. Large parts of Birmingham's outskirts are now dominated by islamic immigrants, with mosques, halal shops and hijab stores and the majority of the women wear hijabs!

Birmingham has trams (pink/grey/white), double decked buses (most of them red and white), intercity trains and the typical British vintage black taxis.

We stayed at the simple but hip Birmingham Central Backpackers Hostel in the post-industrial Digbeth area, near the Bullring and the city centre. We had only one day to spend in Birmingham, we arrived by bus from Luton the evening before (after a two hour long Ryanair delay!) and took the train to Liverpool in the evening. We visited in early April. The weather was grey in the morning, but already at noon, after a visit to the museum, the skies were clear.

The trip to Birmingham was part of a tour in England. We also visited the following cities: Liverpool , Manchester , Leeds and York.

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