It is said that Liverpool offers an opportunity to sample the “real” England – and we would agree. There is traditional ‘old’ architecture mingled with shiny new buildings. The people are friendly and seem to be ‘working class’ folk. The population is young – resulting in a party-scene atmosphere. The city thrives on music and football (aka soccer). It is designated as a UNESCO City of Music and Liverpudlians are either blue (Everton FC) or red (Liverpool FC) fans for life.
We dropped off our rental car at the John Lennon Airport after a successful week of navigating and managing the British roads.
A ride on the airport 500 bus took us into the city and then a short walk to The Residence Liverpool, a great hotel.
A shot of the skyline shows the dramatic contrast between old and new buildings. Much of Liverpool was devastated by WWII bombs but a renaissance of new building in the 2000’s has created a very interesting mix.
Another starting contrast is seen between the city’s two major cathedrals.
The Anglican Liverpool Cathedral is the largest cathedral and religious building in Britain and the eighth largest church in the world. The cathedral is based on a design by Giles Gilbert Scott (who also designed the classic red telephone booth) and was constructed between 1904 and 1978 – we were told that there are stone masons whose entire career was spent working on the building. The total external length of the building is 207 yards (189 m) making it the longest cathedral in the world. In terms of overall volume, Liverpool Cathedral ranks as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world and contests with the incomplete Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City for the title of largest Anglican church building. It is designed to hold 3000 people.
Located at the other end of the aptly named Hope Street is the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. The Crypt, buried deep under the Cathedral, is all that remains of plans for a towering cathedral for Liverpool, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1930. It was due to become the largest cathedral in the world, but the project was abandoned after pressures of WWII and rising costs. In the 1960s, a new design was developed and the current modern, circular Cathedral opened in 1967. It features contemporary works of art, and striking design features such as its Lantern Tower – the world’s largest area of coloured glass.
The remains of St. Lukes Church stand proudly today. The church was designed in 1802 and redesigned and completed in 1831. The church, perpendicular in a gothic style, is known for its decorated pinnacles and windows. In 1941, the church suffered considerable war damage by incendiary bombs. The church and its gardens were then purchased by city council as a place of rest and tranquility after the war.
Liverpool is of course most widely known for its contributions to music and at the centre of that are the four lads from Liverpool – The Beatles. Fans flock to the city to take in the multitude of Beatles related activities. There are many tours, museums, exhibits and sites – you could fill a few days if you wished to take in everything Beatle related.
We chose to highlight our Beatles experience with the City Sights Beatles Tour. This two hour tour worked well for us – an overview of the sites and history. Those wishing a more immersive experience can book longer or more private tours. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and our great singing guide.
Paul McCartney wrote Penny Lane as he rode the bus to school each day – down Penny Lane. Our tour pointed out many of the places highlighted in the song.
Strawberry Fields is a wooded area behind John Lennon’s home. This surrounded a mansion that has at various times been a Salvation Army home and an orphanage.
The tour passes the childhood homes of each of four boys.
The Cavern Quarter on famous Mathew Street is home to a number of well-known clubs and tributes to the Beatles and other musicians. We visited the Quarter at 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon and it was utter madness (at least to these two aging seniors). We came back to a much quieter scene on Sunday morning – the street was a bit sticky 😬
The Cavern Club was born in a warehouse cellar on January 16, 1957. The club played host to hundreds of legendary names but it was the Beatles 292 appearances that gave the club its magical status. The club closed in 1973. A near replica of the club opened 14 meters up the street in 1984.
Mathew Street is full of tributes to the Beatles and other legendary British musicians.
Other tributes to the Beatles can be found at many sites around the city.
The Royal Albert Dock was opened in 1852 by Prince Albert and encompasses seven acres of water surrounded by five story brick warehouses.
The Museum of Liverpool aims to “capture Liverpool’s vibrant character and demonstrate the city’s unique contribution to the world” and we felt it does a great job of it. We enjoyed over 3 hours at the museum.
The Great Port displays how the city served as a global gateway to a global empire. It features the Lion Locomotive, the oldest locomotive to have been steamed in Britain. Built in 1838, the Lion worked for 20 years on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. As well, exhibited is the only surviving car from the 19th century Liverpool Overhead Railway.
The People’s Republic Exhibit details what it is like to be a Liverpudlian, from housing and health issues to topics of military and religion. There is a very heart-wrenching display of the WWII bombing of the city, with accounts by those who lived through it.
The Wondrous Place exhibit celebrates the music, art and sporting side of Liverpool. There are interesting displays of memorabilia and two excellent short films. One film showcases the great football rivalry in the city as well as some of the tragedies that have occurred (including the death of 96 fans at a Liverpool match). The second film features highlights of the Beatles career.
We found Liverpool to be a great city and would highly recommend a visit! It’s fun just to wander the streets and take in the sights.
Bev & Harvey