Liverpool,”Queen of the North”, is famous for a lot more than the Beatles
The city that Carl Jung described as “the pool of life” certainly breathes vitality, warmth and enthusiasm difficult to find elsewhere. It is surely no coincidence that the street connecting two of Liverpool’s biggest rivals is named Hope Street. On one end stands the majestic Anglican Cathedral, the largest in Britain and the longest in the world. On the other, The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, affectionately known as Paddy’s Wigwam, sits like a huge concrete spider.
These unmistakably characteristic buildings are prominent in Liverpool’s skyline, rivalled perhaps only by that in Manhattan, at least as far as Liverpudlians are concerned. Best appreciated from the river, while taking the famous Ferry Across The Mersey, the cathedrals form a backdrop to Liverpool’s distinctive waterfront and docks. The docks area have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004 and were the last sight over nine million hopefuls would have seen as they set off to The New World between 1830 and 1930.
A trio of landmarks, The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, known as “The Three Graces”, were constructed as visible symbols of Liverpool’s international prestige. The mythical Liver Birds stand on top of The Royal Liver Building. The symbol of Liverpool, legend states that the city will cease to exist if they ever fly away. Careful observers will note both birds are chained to their domes.
“Four Lads Who Shook the World”
When thinking of Liverpool, four names spring to mind and it is impossible to move round Liverpool without hearing the strains of The Beatles wafting out of pubs, bars and shops. John Lennon’s message of peace can even be found at the airport bearing his name, which reminds us “above us only sky”. Beatles maniacs will be in heaven in Liverpool and should head for Mathew Street, where it all started.
The original Cavern Club no longer exists, but was rebuilt on the same spot, using many of the original bricks, and is open daily from 10am with live music starting early in the afternoon and going on until late. Also on Mathew Street, look out for the Cavern Wall of Fame, featuring names of famous musicians who have played at the pub during the years, the John Lennon Statue, Beatles shops and a modern sculpture entitled “Four Lads Who Shook the World.” Hardcore fans should have a pint in The Grapes pub, where The Beatles used to drink before Cavern gigs.
The Magical Mystery Tour is an unmissable experience for Beatles fans. Visit the Beatles childhood homes, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and St Peter’s Church Hall, where John and Paul first met. The Tour Bus, which is a replica of the one used in the film Magical Mystery Tour, leaves from The Albert Dock, where you can find The Beatles Story Museum. Providing plenty of Beatles background, the museum also houses John Lennon’s round spectacles, George’s first guitar and a moving tribute to John in a recreation of the white room from the “Imagine” video.
So what do you do in Liverpool if you don’t like The Beatles?
The Albert Dock area, which was redeveloped in the 1980’s after lying derelict for years, is bursting with stylish shops, bars and restaurants and features some of Liverpool’s most interesting museums, which apart from special exhibitions, have no entry fee. The Merseyside Maritime Museum recounts Liverpool’s seafaring heritage, The International Slavery Museum offers an insightful look into the horrors of slavery and The Tate Modern Gallery houses one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art outside London. On the waterfront, the Museum of Liverpool demonstrates Liverpool’s contribution to the world. Other notable museums include the World Museum, which includes a bughouse, hands-on Natural History Centre and Planetarium, and The Walker Art Gallery, which has one of the largest collections of fine art in Europe.
Something for everyone in Liverpool
There really is something for everyone in Liverpool. Liverpool One, a shopaholic’s paradise, is one of the largest open air shopping complexes in Europe featuring 160 high street shops. Football fans can make a pilgrimage to Anfield, home of “The Reds” or to Everton’s headquarters at Goodison Park. If you fancy a flutter, head for Haydock Park Racecourse, which is easily reachable by train, the most visited racecourse in the country and home of The Grand National. Liverpool’s botanical collection is showcased in Sefton Parl Park Palm House, a grade II listed Victorian Glasshouse in Sefton Park. Liverpool was not named European Capital of Culture in 2008 for nothing and boasts a huge number of theatres, the FACT multimedia exhibition centre and its own Philharmonic Orchestra.
And then there’s the Nightlife…
Liverpool has long been famous for its nightlife and there is plenty to do apart from dancing in The Cavern. The city has a wonderful collection of fine bars, cafés and restaurants and remarkable pubs, many of which serve excellent food. Lovers of fine ale and architecture must visit the impressive Philharmonic Dining Rooms, a Grade II listed building dating back to Victorian times, featuring chandeliers, stained glass windows and rooms names after composers. The high quality of the gentleman’s urinals, made from attractive roseate marble, can be admired by visitors, although ladies are usually advised to visit at closing time.
Liverpool people are the soul of the city
Liverpool is not just a collection of buildings, streets, museums, businesses and industries. It has a real breathing heart and soul. Of course, it is the people who make the city come to life. In the face of tragedies such as the Hillsbourgh football disaster, where 96 spectators were killed or the suffering caused due to the Dockers’ strike, “Scousers“, as the locals are known, always pull together. This is well reflected in the anthem of Liverpool Football Club, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Liverpool has recently been voted fourth most friendly city in the world by the readers of Rough Guide, and if you come for a visit, you’ll some find out why.
How to get to Liverpool
- By Air: The nearest airports are Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport
- By Train : Regular services run from major towns and cities into Liverpool Lime Street Station
- By Car: From the M6 Liverpool is easily reached from the M58, M56 and M62
Where to stay
21, Keel Wharf
Smart apartments at reasonable prices just near the waterfront.
Heywood House Hotel
11, Fenwick Street
A cosy, central hotel, which has won “comfortable bed of the year” award.
2, North John Street
Reasonably priced modern hotel in excellent location
Hard Day’s Night Hotel
Central Buildings, North John Street
For the hardcore Beatles fan, Boutique hotel with Beatles décor throughout.
Where to eat and drink
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms
36, Hope Street,
An architectural gem, excellent range of guest ales and fine food.
34, Pilgrim Street
A lively pub which often has live music and has mini-jukeboxes on each table
The Everyman Bistro
5-11 Hope Street
In the basement of the theatre which launched the careers of Bill Nighy, Julie Walters and Pete Postlethwaite, the bistro attracts locals as well as theatre goers. Recently refurbished, the bistro is well known for its fine ales and tasty food.
13, Rice Street
Made famous by visits from John and Cynthia Lennon, this pub has 150 years worth of character and a nice beer garden.
Bold Street Coffee
89, Bold Street
Posh sandwiches, interesting salads and fantastic soups.
The Egg Café
Top Floor, 16-18 Newington (Off Bold Street)
Bohemian style vegetarian café which is also an art gallery
The Lobster pot
19, Ranelagh Street
The best fish and chips in Liverpool
4, Queens Square
A taste of Spain in Liverpool
10, Mathew Street
Perhaps the most famous club in the world. Free admission at some times.
22, Caledonia Street
Jazz, Cajun and Irish live sounds. Free entry. Fine ales and good food.
18, Mathew Street
Lively Irish pub with nice pints and plenty of live music
The Krazy House
16, Wood Street
A multi-floored club featuring rock, dance and indie music