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Overview

England’s second city - though Manchester also claims the title - Birmingham was made great by the Industrial Revolution. At one time, the city was known as the "workshop of the world," with hundreds of factories producing metalwork, bicycles, jewelry, glassware, trains, cars, and most famously, Cadbury’s chocolate. Industrial decline arrived in the 1970s, but Birmingham bounced back impressively, emerging as a beacon of urban renewal. The drab concrete architecture thrown up in the aftermath of WWII has been upstaged by some of England’s most eye-catching modern architecture, particularly around the revitalized Bullring. That said, there ...

England’s second city - though Manchester also claims the title - Birmingham was made great by the Industrial Revolution. At one time, the city was known as the "workshop of the world," with hundreds of factories producing metalwork, bicycles, jewelry, glassware, trains, cars, and most famously, Cadbury’s chocolate. Industrial decline arrived in the 1970s, but Birmingham bounced back impressively, emerging as a beacon of urban renewal. The drab concrete architecture thrown up in the aftermath of WWII has been upstaged by some of England’s most eye-catching modern architecture, particularly around the revitalized Bullring. That said, there are still plenty of grand 18th-century buildings around Victoria Square in the center. As well as its distinctive accent, Birmingham is famous for the thousands of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi families who settled here after the 1960s. Eating out at a Birmingham balti restaurant - named for the iron pan used to cook the curries - is one of the highlights of any visit to the city.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to October, but the most exciting time to visit is during one of the big Indian festivals.