Thousands of people visit Liverpool year-on-year to discover what it is exactly that makes this 800-year-old hub so special. And what do they find? On arrival, you'll come across a World Heritage city, a diverse music scene, stacks of architecture, sports of excellence, as well as an intriguing history behind the city's growth and development. And with a world-famous skyline to top it off – where can you possibly go wrong?
During 2008, Liverpool held the European Capital of Culture status, which was by far the city's golden opportunity for all things cultural and magnificent. Although the word 'culture' was fast becoming old and tired as it was bandied around the city streets and presses, there was no doubt that the essence of what was happening was fantastic for the city's popularity with tourists, and its own inhabitants.
But first, a little history. Established as a major port city with strong maritime links, Liverpool was passing 40% of the world's trade though it's docks by the 19th Century. This increased with the construction of the Albert Dock where precious cargoes from all over the world would land. The Pier Head soon became one of Liverpool's biggest assets – another “world-famous” branding for the city.
Around the same time, what were to become Liverpool's key
landmarks were being built. Lime Street station, St. Georges Hall
and the North Western Railway Hotel sparked the beginning of a
Grade I listed building marathon, as Liverpool prides itself on having
more listed buildings than anywhere in the UK outside London.
So what are the picks of the city? First let's briefly turn to some church
talk, as Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral is something that will catch
even the most hardened atheist's eye. This building can only be
described as humongous. It really must be, as it's the 5th largest
cathedral in the world, and the largest in Britain. Inside and out it is
really worth the visit, but a trip to the top is a must. If you're into your
city panoramas and vertigo isn't an ailment you can say yes to, get in
the lift and take it all in.
But if you like your feet firmly on the ground and museums and art
get you high, then fill your boots in Liverpool's Cultural Quarter. A
pick 'n' mix of free events and exhibitions are open to you at the World
Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, the International Slavery Museum
and the Liverpool Maritime Museum. There is also of course, Tate
Liverpool, which in 2007 hosted the Turner Prize ceremony.
Liverpool city centre's recent redevelopment has given the locals
Liverpool One. A shopper’s paradise and too many stores to throw
your cash at, it's something that the city has needed for a long time.
Tired Church Street is slowly getting a revamp too, and soon, the city should be busting with high street and high end shops for the bargain hunters and big spenders. Let's not forget Bold Street for your kitsch and quirky gifts, jewellery and furniture, as well as some novel little cafes and restaurants.
What of this famous music scene that everyone keeps talking about? It goes without saying that the Merseybeat and Beatlemania of the 1960s put Liverpool on the musical map, and not much has really changed. Fly posters cover the walls and windows of the city, all promoting the next big musical thing, and there are plenty of venues for it all to happen in such as the O2 Academy, the Cavern, and the Zanzibar. And for the more established acts, there's the Echo Arena. Much longed-for by Liverpudlians to end the late-night trips back from Manchester, the Arena has definitely upped the game. Liverpool also plays host to the low-key open mic nights. Favourites include the Jacaranda on Thursday or the Pilgrim on Sunday, which offer a laid-back night of banter, and good and bad music – but that's entertainment.
The next big past time in Liverpool is of course, football. Whether you're a Toffee or a Red, Anfield and Goodison Park are possibly the third and fourth churches of Liverpool, enticing a mass of worshippers and followers, and prove a big attraction for tourists from all over.
But what everyone always wants to know about a place is, what's the nightlife like? Luckily Liverpool can tick this box over and over. Those that like to drink and dance can feel right at home in a plethora of bars, clubs and pubs. All depending on your scene, Liverpool offers northern soul at Heebie Jeebies and La'go's, indie at Le Bateau, rock/metal at the Krazyhouse and club classics at Garlands. Something for everyone? Tick.
There is plenty more left to say about Liverpool, and not nearly enough space to write it in. The fact remains that anyone who comes here, no matter what exotic place they're from, always say they love it. Shops, cafes clubs, architecture – the Pool of Life is thriving, so what are you waiting for?
By Laura Day
Liverpool in pictures
Liverpool's archictectural marvels come to life in Merseyside Tourism's official video on YouTube
The iconic Royal Liver Building