20 March 2018

Art Galleries, the John Rylands Library and Independent Cafes in Manchester

Last month, I went to Manchester for the first time. I knew this wasn't some sort of romantic destination like York or Bath but I thought that living in Leeds for a year without going to Manchester would have meant missing out on a big part of the North.

Manchester Railway Station - the hallway gets super bright from natural light, I loved it!

Once we got to Manchester, we went on a walk around the city centre. It rained for the entire day, so walking wasn't too pleasant, but we still tried to make the most of the city. I realised that Manchester has a bit more to offer than Leeds. As a student, I am happy to live in a small town, but if I were to work somewhere else in the UK, Manchester would definitely be a good alternative to London. The city centre is full of shops, bars, restaurants etc. I really enjoyed the busy vibes, everybody seemed to be heading somewhere (which is the feeling I always get in London!). 

One of the first stops was Manchester Art Gallery. I enjoyed reading and looking at paintings of local artists, who can sometimes be underestimated in national galleries. 
After that, we headed to John Rylands Library, one of the University of Manchester's libraries. Apart from the study areas, you can visit an ancient side of the library which I found very impressive (though not as beautiful as Wills Memorial in Bristol, but don't tell anyone I said it!). I really enjoyed reading about the history of John Ryland and Enriqueta Rylands. In the Victorian age, John Ryland used to be of one of the biggest textile manufacturers and the richest man in Manchester. Once he died, his wife Enriqueta Rylands erected a memorial for him in the library in 1901. Both the Rylands' story and their statues reminded me of North and South, a BBC series I talked about in a favourites post and that I recommend watching before going to Manchester (in case you're a history lover like me). In the library there are also a lot of references to Elizabeth Gaskell, an English writer from the 1800s who is also the autor of the North and South, the book the series is inspired to. 

Before going back to Leeds, we spent some time around the main city centres which were very impressive considering their huge amount of shops. Unfortunately the pictures of the cafes I went to (both really cute!) were too blurry so I decided not to upload them. However, I highly recommend both Fig + Sparrow and Sugar Junction (in the Northern Quarter).

I really liked Manchester as a potential place to live and work in, so who knows if I'll ever end up there?

Have you ever been to Manchester? If you have any recommendations of places to visit please share in the comments below!


  1. When I think of Manchester, I think not of tourism but of Dickens's Hard Times, but you make it sound like a nice place to visit!

    1. Yeah Manchester is definitely not a touristy city. I also thought about a classic, Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South :)