JUL 05,2016 - JUL 05,2016 (1 DAYS)
Main Attractions: Bell Edison Telephone Building, Birmingham School of Arts, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Victoria Square, Bullring Shopping Centre, The Rotunda, Centenary Square, Library of Birmingham, Birmingham Canal, Brindleyplace, Cube project, The Mailbox, Gas Street Basin.
Start: Snow Hill Railway Station. End: New Street Station. Duration: 3/4 day - 1 day.
Orientation: Birmingham is served by several railway station (like many other cities in the UK). The distances among the various stations is, very often, no more than 15-20 minutes walk. The city centre is fantastic shopping and the ramped canal system amazing. Nice to walk both day and night time. It does look like it was back in old days in parts. Canals in Birmingham wonderfully restored. A city with around 150 km.s of canals. BIRMINGHAM IS A LOVELY CITY !!!
From the Snow Hill station - we turn RIGHT twice and arrive to Livery Road. At the 2nd intersection - turn left to Edmund Street. On your right - the Old Conteptibles Pub. We pass, on our right and our left - the Church Street:
We pass Barwick Street on our left and arrive to Newhall Street on our left and right. Attention the red-bricked building with gorgeous turrets on our right - The Bell Edison Telephone Building (17-19 Newhall Street). it was built as the new Central Telephone Exchange and offices for the National Telephone Company (NTC). The NTC was taken over by the Postmaster General in 1912 and the ownership transferred to the General Post Office. During World War I, it was the Midland headquarters of the air raid warning system:
Opposite, a similar building - The Exchange:
Next, we pass Margaret Street on our right and the Birmingham School of Arts. The foundation stone was laid on 31 May 1884 and the building was opened in September 1885. It is a red-brick Victorian Gothic structure with Venetian style and naturalistic decoration. Completed after its architect J. H. Chamberlain's death by his partner William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. Considered as Chamberlain's masterpiece:
We continue walking south-west along Edmund Street and arrive to Chamberlaine Square. On our left is the tower of the Council House or Town Hall:
The side of the building, which faces Chamberlain Square, is the entrance and façade of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which is partly housed within the same building. The front of this building is, actually, in Victoria Square:
The link bridge between the original Art Gallery and the Art Gallery Extension of 1911–1919. The archway or bridge resembles slightly The Bridge of Sighs in Venice:
Big Brum is the local name for the clock tower on the Council House, Birmingham, England. Built in 1885, the clock tower is part of the first extension to the original Council House of 1879 and stands above the Museum & Art Gallery. The clock tower, Museum & Art Gallery and Council House were designed by architect Yeoville Thomason and form a single block. The clock was donated by A. Follett Osler, a local pioneer in the measurement of meteorological and chronological data:
Opening Times: MON - THU: 10.00 - 17.00, FRI 10.30 - 17.00, SAT & SUN 10.00 - 17.00. Free entry. Fascinating museum. The visit is a delight. Quite a lot to see. Allow, at least, two-three hours. Magnificent building in its own.
--- Faith Section ---
Simhanada Lakeshvara, 11th cent., Bihar, India, Stone:
Statue of Buddha, 7th Cent., The Sultangang Buddha:
Death of Buddha, 10th Cent., Eastern India:
--- Religions Section ---
There is a special hall devoted to the 4 main religions in our world. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism. Flat, naive exhibition. No inspiration. Skip it.
--- British Modern 20th Cent. Art ---
Henry Moore - The Warrior, 1954:
Head of Rabindranath Tagore, Jacob Epstein, 1926, Bronze:
--- 19th and 20th Cent. Art (including Impressionism from France):
Henry Matisse - The White Fox Fur, 1929, Lithograph:
Alfred Sisley - Church of Moret in the Rain, 1894:
Camille Pissaro, The Pont Boieldieu at Rouen in Sunset, 1896:
Jean-Francois Rafaell, The Awakening, 1890:
--- 18th - 19th Cent. British Paintings ---
Henry Roenburn (Scotland most famous portrait painter), Mrs. Ferguharson of Frinzean, around 1814-1823:
--- The Pre-Raphaelites ---
Ford Madox Brown - The last of England (emmigration from England to America in the 1850s):
Ford Madox Brown - The Death of Sir Tristram, 1864:
Fredrick Sandys, Medea preparing a poisoned portion for Glouke, 1866-1868:
New Lamps for Old, Joseph Southall, 1900-1 (from a legend in 1001 Nights Tales):
Silver and Gold, William Musell Flint, 1931. A stunning picture of a woman wearing a fashionable evening dress of the late 1920s. !:
The Battle of the Amazons, Paul Rubens, 1590:
Everitt Cabinet designed by John Henry Chamberlain. The cabinet was commissioned for Allen G Everitt, Secretary of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, by fellow members of the Society, on the occasion of his marriage in 1880:
--= The Level 3 of the museum is very impressive---
The whole floor hosts a plaster cast of the original Frieze of the Parthenon in the British Museum in London. There is a collection of Mummies as well.
The section of Ancient Egypt is a bit gloomy and neglected. Funerary Mask, 332-64 AC:
Limestone relief from a tomb wall of Min, Hor-nakht, 18th-19th Dynasty, 1300 B.C:
Granite block, Temple of Bubastis, 22nd Dynasty, 850 B.C:
Ptah-Seker, Osiris figure , Soqqara, 26th Dynasty, 600 B.C:
---Ancient Iraq ---
Fragment of a carved relief from the reign of Assurbanipal, Ninveh, 668-627 B.C:
To exit the museum - press: "Level 2" in the elevator.
Victoria Square resides south to the Town Hall and adjacent to Chamberlaine Square. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE SQUARES IN EUROPE. Amazing building around. Fantastic mix of colors and shapes. Beautiful scenery of architecture, flowers, buildings and statues. The fountain did not function during my visit. It seems it would be non-operational for a long time. This square always seems relaxing and peaceful BUT with many busy coming and going. Plenty of places to sit, relax, enjoy lunch and chat. The fact that it isn't flat adds to it's interest. There is a lot of work going on during the last 18 months - making it a little tricky to enjoy the surroundings.
The Council House and Statue of Queen Victoria:
'The River' fountain and sculpture (locally known as 'The Floozie in the Jacuzzi'):
The Guardian statue:
(non-operational) water/fountain statues:
(Iron) Man statue by Anthony Gormley:
From Victoria Square we head southeast on Hill St toward Swallow St, 500 m. Turn left onto Smallbrook Queensway, 320 m. and we arrive to the Bullring Shopping Centre. Bullring is the glamorous heart of Birmingham with over 160 imaginative and iconic shops to explore. It is styled as one word, Bullring.
Since opening in 2003 Bullring has helped to transform shopping in Birmingham – making it one of the most popular destinations for retail commerce in the UK. The most known is the Selfridges building (which was inspired by a Paco Rabanne sequinned dress and designed by Future Systems). The store is clad in 15,000 shiny aluminium discs:
Others are: Debenhams, Forever 21, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Hollister and more than 40 restaurants and cafés to relax in. You can enter Nando's restaurant - which down the stairs from the central square of the Bullring complex. It has been an important feature of Birmingham since the Middle Ages, when its market was first held. Two shopping centres have been built in the area; in the 1960s, and then in 2003. the centre has been a huge success, attracting customers from all over the world. A huge variety of shops and restaurants:
Bullring Shopping Centre was master-planned and designed mainly by Benoy international firm of architects. The shopping centre consists of two main buildings (East and West Malls) which are connected by an underground passage lined with shops and is also accessible from St Martin's Square via glass doors. There are three full floors of a myriad of shops, department stores, eateries etc'. Easy access from the main train station (Birmingham New Street Station). The shopping centre's design has both its admirers and detractors:
At the main entrance to the west building stands the tall bronze sculpture of a running, turning bull. It was created by Laurence Broderick and has become a very popular photographic feature for visitors to Birmingham. The statue was vandalized in 2005. The sculpture was vandalized again in 2006. The sculptor gave support to calls for the statue to be renamed "Brummie the Bull". However, it is more widely known as simply "The Bull.":
Another famous statue is the Statue of Lord Nelson by Sir Richard Westmacott, 1807-09, on the Portland plinth and railings surrounding it. This bronze statue was the first publicly funded statue in Birmingham, and the first statue of Horatio Nelson in Britain. It was made in 1809 by public subscription of £2,500 by the people of Birmingham following Nelson's visit to the town on 31 August 1802, the year before he sailed against the fleets of Napoleon. The statue was unveiled on 25 October 1809, that being the day decreed as the official golden jubilee of George III:
The site is located on the edge of the sandstone city ridge which results in the steep gradient towards Selfridges store. The slope drops approximately 15 metres from New Street to St Martin the Bulring Church. This lovely church, largely rebuilt in the 19th century, is stranded on the southern edge of the Bullring, facing a wall of 21st century consumer paradise. St Martins provides a real tranquil centre to gather your thoughts when you have had enough wandering around the Bullring. Just sitting for a few moments allows you to take a deep breath before heading back into the commercial world outside. In 1873, a former church was demolished and rebuilt by architect Alfred Chatwin, from Birmingham, preserving the earlier tower and spire. During the demolition, medieval wall paintings and decorations were discovered in the chancel, including one showing the charity of St Martin dividing his cloak with a beggar. St Martin was a soldier. He was born in Hungary in 316 and never wanted to join the army but was obliged to by law. At the age of 18, he was posted to Amiens in France. One bitterly cold winter’s night he was riding through the city when he saw a half-naked beggar huddled against a wall. Martin was so moved by the sight that he cut his cloak with his sword and gave one half to the beggar. That night he had a dream in which Christ appeared to him as the beggar and thanked Martin for clothing him. In response, the young soldier got baptised. Later he was to leave the army to become a soldier of Christ, eventually becoming Bishop of Tours in France. St Martin is remembered today for his service to the poor.
The interior has an open timber roof, which shows the influence of the great hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall in London:
The South Transept has a Burne-Jones window, made by William Morris in 1875. This window was taken down for safe keeping the day before a World War II bomb dropped beside the church on 10 April 1941, destroying all remaining windows:
The West window is a 1954 copy of the Henry Hardman 1875 window destroyed in the Blitz:
Even more south to the church, the Birmingham Open Market is on Edgbaston street, just outside the Indoor markets. Opening times: TUE - FRI: 9.00 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.30. The Bull Ring Open Market has 130 stalls. The wide, covered aisles are suitable for wheelchair users and those with mobility difficulties. The original Market Hall, with room for 600 stalls and an ornamental fountain, was built in 1835, again designed by Charles Edge, the man who finished the Town Hall. In 1940 it was deserted after being hit by a German incendiary bomb. It was still in use although roofless until the redevelopment of Birmingham swept it away in the early 1960s. Work began to redevelop the Bull Ring in 1961 and the new Bull Ring, which cost a total of £8 million, was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in May 1964. It was meant to be the ultimate shopping experience and was declared to be the biggest indoor shopping mall outside the USA, but many said the feel of the old market had been lost. Now it plays host to more than six million shoppers every year, with 140 stallholders offering fresh fruit and veg, farm produce, delicious cheeses, Carribean food, lots of beautiful fabrics, clothing:
Try to find your way to the Rotunda. From the Open Market - you head to the north-west corner of the Bullring complex. The Rotunda is in the intersection of High Street and (our well known) New Street. The Rotunda is a cylindrical 81 metres high-rise building. It was completed in 1965. It was refurbished between 2004 and 2008 and was turned into a residential building. The building was officially reopened on 13 May 2008:
With our back to the Rotunda building we enter New Street and walk north-west. Flowers stall in New Street:
We cross Corporation Street - where, on our left, is the Grand Central Shopping Centre. On the background we see the "Brum" clock tower of the Town Hall:
New St turns slightly right and becomes Paradise St. Slight right onto Fletchers Walk and turn right to take the stairs. Turn left and you face the grandiose Centenary Square. SUPERB ! MAJESTIC !! Named in 1989 to commemorate the centenary of Birmingham achieving city status. The square is used as a staging area for many of the city's main cultural events including the German (Frankfurt) Christmas Market, Arts Festivals, Remembrance Day Services, New Year's Celebrations and during Christmas hosts a temporary ice rink and Ferris wheel. The area was an industrial area of small workshops and canal wharves before it was purchased by the council in the 1920s for the creation of a grand civic centre scheme to include museums, council offices, cathedral and opera house. The scheme was abandoned after the arrival of World War II with only the Hall of Memory and half of the planned Baskerville House complete. The Centenary Square is especially pretty in Spring and Summer with flowers in full bloom.
On our left, as we enter the grandiose square, is the War Memorial. This is the oldest building in the square:
The Baskerville House is, on our right, immediately as we enter the square from the east:
The square is bounded to the north by Birmingham Repertory Theatre (1971),
Library of Birmingham (2013)
and Baskerville House (1938) (see above). The western edge of the square is defined by the International Convention Centre (1991),
Symphony Hall (1992)
and Hyatt Hotel (1990).
Symphony Hall and Hyatt Regency Hotel:
To the south of the square is Broad Street beyond which are the House of Sport (1951),
Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters (1933) and Alpha Tower (1972).
The southern side of the square is earmarked for redevelopment as part of the Arena Central scheme. To the east across Centenary Way is the Copthorne Hotel (1987),
Birmingham Central Library (1974) and Chamberlain House (1987). The NEW Library of Birmingham was opened on 3 September 2013, it replaced Birmingham Central Library. The library is viewed by the Birmingham City Council as a flagship project for the city's redevelopment. It has been described as the largest public library in the United Kingdom, the largest public cultural space in Europe, and the largest regional library in Europe.It is the 10th most popular visitor attraction in the UK:
This bronze sculpture by Gillain Wearing challenges what is meant by "family": I am not sure you'll see this sculpture. I heard it was removed during year 2017:
The Birmingham Library from the Repertory Theatre:
Library of Birmingham opening hours: MON - TUE: 11.00 – 19.00, WED - SAT: 11.00 - 17.00. An architectural magic. On 17 July 2014 the Library of Birmingham was nominated as one of the six short-listed buildings for the 2014 Stirling Prize, awarded for excellence in architecture. YOU MUST ENTER AND VISIT THE BUILDING.
The views from the Birmingham Library viewing platform are outstanding. The breathtaking views of Birmingham and the Centenary Square around the Library stunning tower is another inspiring magnet attracting visitors from all around the world to this wonderful building:
The secret garden on level 4 with the raised beds, birds' boxes interwoven with gravel paths reflect the façade pattern, which has been used as the identity of the Library. (It has also been used in the floor pattern and on the Library teams uniforms...):
On level 7 there is even more beautiful and stunning "secret garden". The views of this garden combined with the mighty landscaping of the Centenary Square, downstairs - are unforgettable. BOTH ROOF GARDENS ARE A MUST !
It is a special experience to see and use the contemporary glass elevators in the library building:
The Centenary Square was equipped with several famous (and controversial) statues in the past. Most of them were destroyed (Forward Statue - by a blaze) or removed (Ordinary Birmingham family - by Emma Jones). Still, you can see green, planted and manicured sculptures like this one in front of Birmingham Library:
We enter the ICC and Symphony Hall complex. It is an underground shopping centre - leading to the Birmingham Canal basin:
Exiting the shopping centres passage we face a bridge over the Birmingham Canal. The canals were the life-blood of Victorian Birmingham and the Black Country. At their height, they were so busy that gas lighting was installed beside the locks to permit round-the-clock operation. Boats were built without cabins for maximum carrying capacity. Do not underestimate Birmingham waterways. Many people say that Birmingham has a larger network of waterways than Venice. Many of our canals were built at the height of the industrial revolution. Birmingham's waterways make the ideal spot to unwind in the middle of a busy city. You can admire the historic architecture and passing boats on a towpath walk or cycle. You can enjoy a boat trip down the canal, or explore the vibrant waterfront by visiting one of the cafés, bars and restaurants: The Malt House, The Prince of Wales, The Queens Arms or the Tap & Spile:
View from the canal basin to the ICC and Symphony Hall. The sculpture is The Battle of Gods and Giants by Roderick Tye. It symbolizes Birmingham's struggle to rebuild its centre.
Birmingham Canal opposite ICC and the Symphony Hall:
We cross the Birmingham City Central Path canal from east to west to Brindleyplace - the Waters Edge (more punctually, the Waters Edge is the most eastern part of Bridleyplace...). Brindleyplace is a large canalside development. It was named after Brindley Place, the name of the street (in turn named after the 18th century canal engineer James Brindley) around which it is built. In addition to shops, bars and restaurants, Brindleyplace is home to the National Sea Life Centre, Royal Bank of Scotland, Orion Media, Ikon Gallery of art and the Crescent Theatre. The site covers 69,000 m² of redevelopment on a grand scale - the UK's largest such project.] The Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line Canal separates Brindleyplace from the International Convention Centre, although there are linking bridges. The National Indoor Arena, Old Turn Junction and bustling bars of Broad Street are nearby. The area occupied by Brindleyplace was, at the height of Birmingham's industrial past, the site of factories, however, by the 1970s as Britain's manufacturing went into decline, the factories closed down and the buildings lay derelict for many years. Brindleyplace is full with interesting buildings. A variety of architects were used to design the buildings in the complex to create a range of architectural styles:
WE shall enter Brindleyplace and change direction - walking into this quarter with our face to the south-east. We cross Brindley Place and Brunswick Streets and, on our left, is the Ikon Gallery. The gallery features temporary exhibitions over two floors. Ikon shows works by artists from around the world and a variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation. FREE entry. Opening Times: TUE – SUN: 11.00 - 17.00:
Oozels Street separates between the Ikon Gallery (north-east side of the square) to the Oozels Square. The square's epic centre is the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) building in the south-east edge of the square. The square is surrounded on three sides by modern buildings and on one side by the historic building, used to be a school, but is now the modern art museum - Ikon Gallery:
With our face to the RBS main building (south-west) - the Broad Street is on our left. I did not find a reason to devote time to this street .
Oozele Square, the north-east side of the square: the Ikon Gallery:
Brindleyplace has three famous squares: Brunswick Square, Oozelle Square and Central Square. If we walk from the Oozelle Square NORHWARD (between the Brindleyplace Six building on your left and Brindleyplace Two building on your right) - you arrive to the Central Square. The square is paved in York stone and has a fountain featuring 38 jets of water. I found the squares in Brindleyplace - very impressive, neatly maintained and designed:
Three Brindleyplace from Central Square:
"Aquaduct" sculpture by Miles Davies in Central Square in front of Four Brindleyplace, made of bronze and phosphor:
At Ten Brindleyplace- you see a sculpture "Future" by Robert Bowers, located outside the "Ten Brindleyplace" building:
We RETURN to the ICC. We cross the bridge with our face (north-east) to the ICC building and our back (south-west) to Brindleyplace:
The bridge leads back into the ICC building:
We exit the ICC building and turn RIGHT (south-east) to Bridge Street. The Hyatt Regency hotel is on our right. We pass the Holiday Street on our left and pass through the Cube project. My opinion: it looks like a Tetris Cube... Widely considered one of the most successful additions to Birmingham’s ever-changing skyline, The Cube 25-storey structure also includes the UK’s largest automated car park. Award-winning architect Ken Shuttleworth (who designed London's Gherkin building with Norman Foster) was chosen for the project, whose world-class portfolio includes The Gherkin and Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport. Taking inspiration from the city’s jewellery making tradition, his vision for The Cube was to create “an enchanting jewellery box” rich with light and intricate gold and bronze geometric shapes. The site is enclosed by The Mailbox complex, Commercial Street, Washington Wharf apartment complex and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Astonishing views all around. I was told to climb to the the top floor and have breath-taking views of Birmingham. Didn't do that due to the late hour arriving here. Come here before the dusk hours - and enjoy first-class landscaping all around. RECOMMENDED !
The Mailbox project resides south-east to the Cube. The Mailbox is an upmarket shopping and office development. It serves as the base for BBC Birmingham. Above the front shops it has an additional 6 floors which includes a Malmaison hotel and residential apartments. The Worcester and Birmingham Canal passes along the back with a number of restaurants overlooking. The views from the Cube to the Mailbox and the adjacent canal branches - ARE OUTSTANDING:
From the Cube and the Mailbox developments we descend to the canal level and walk BACK from south-east to north-west - heading back to the ICC building. The canal is on our right:
The more we advance westward - we'll see the spectacular Birmingham Library silhouette or colorful rooftop structure:
We arrive to the Gas Street Basin. Good place to go for a lunchtime or evening walk along the canals. There are a few nice bars and restaurants about and the canals go to the mailbox and off Broad Street. A very pleasant place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of canal life. Very scenic area. A lot of photo ops. A lot of house boats. This is old Birmingham:
We pass under the bridge (which bears Broad Street above) and, soon, we face the ICC. From the ICC we take the underground passage to connect with New Street Station(approx. 850 m.): Take the stairway up to the 3rd floor. Exit the complex. Head east, turn right toward Fletchers Walk, turn left toward Fletchers Walk, 160 m., turn left toward Fletchers Walk, take the stairs, turn left onto Fletchers Walk, turn left onto Paradise St, slight left at Hill St, 160 m. Continue onto New St.