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One of England's major cities, famed for its cosmopolitan feel

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Birmingham is one of England's major cities and the country's second most populated with over 1 million inhabitants. It forms part of the larger West Midlands conurbation with several other settlements such as Solihull and Wolverhampton. This metropolis sits in the heart of England and is in many ways the centre of the country- a mass of urban development. Famed for its cosmopolitan feel, the city is a melting pot of cultures, races and religions.
Like so many of Britain's great cities, Birmingham grew to eminence in the Industrial revolution of the 17 and 1800's. As Britain became the world leader in industry and trade, Birmingham soon established itself as the 'workshop of the world' and the 'city of a thousand trades'. As industry grew from strength to strength so the city grew in size and thousands of working class families settled in the terraced housing estates that are so often associated with the city. Although industry has now declined, Birmingham remains one of the UK's centres of commerce and a hub of business and enterprise.
Bourneville is a part of Birmingham integral to it's social and industrial history. Originally a rural collection of villages, with the 1879 relocation of the Cadbury's chocolate empire, it soon became home to thousands of workers and their families. The social philanthropy of founder George Cadbury meant that the settlements were spacious and well designed and showcased a new model of worker care rarely seen in the industrial cut and throat culture of previous generations. Cadbury's World is one of the city's most popular sites of interest and is the flagship attraction of the world famous Cadbury chocolate company. Opened in 1990, it offers visitors the opportunity to discover the history of chocolate, its production from cradle to grave and enjoy the interactive fun of 'Purple Planet'. The Bourneville Experience also tracks the social dynamic of the companies influence on the city and the world.
Birmingham has a thriving shopping and entertainment centre. The Bullring shopping centre is one of Britain's most popular shopping destinations and is home to all the major high street names as well as smaller boutiques. The National Exhibition Centre in Solihull houses a wealth of entertainment programmes, including the top gigs, numerous expos and many conferences.
Birmingham is also home to numerous galleries and museums. For example the museums of Aston and Blakesley Hall, the Thinktank museum of science and technology and the beautiful Sarehole Mill, popular with fans of J.R.R Tolkien who was inspired by the Mill during his writing of the Lord of the Rings novels. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is the main gallery of the city, and home to a wonderful collection of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood works, including paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is also well worth a visit and is home to one of the city's main concert halls.
Sutton Park offers a green alternative to stomping museum corridors and is the largest urban nature reserve in Britain. Birmingham Botanical Gardens provide a serene Victorian flower fest and wonderful place to rest close to the city centre.
The diversity of the city has resulted in a wide range of places of worship. The city accommodates three Cathedrals, the pretty little St Philips, the Catholic St Chad's and the Greek Orthodox Dormition of the Mother of God and St Andrew. Birmingham is also home to the Tividale Tirupathy Balaji Temple, which was built in the 1950's to accommodate the large Hindu population of the city. It is designed to replicate the Tirupati Venkateswara Temple in India, which is the second richest religious centre in the world after the Roman Catholic Vatican. Finally Birmingham also has one of the largest Mosques in Europe, located in Sparkhill.
Birmingham however, isn't only home to great shopping and fascinating museums but also to a vibrant music scene, successful sporting achievements and a varied array of cultural experiences. The city is said to be the birthplace of heavy metal music with Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and two members of Led Zeppelin all from the area. Aston Villa football club won the European Cup in 1982 and rivals Birmingham City have been a major English footballing force for many years. Edgbaston is also home to Warwickshire Cricket Club and houses many English test matches.
Birmingham is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the UK and as a result offers a huge range of world cuisine. Britain prides itself on being a cosmopolitan nation, peoples from across the globe living side by side in harmony. Birmingham is perhaps the best example of such a community and the atmosphere of diversity is electric.
Visitor Information
Birmingham Tourism Centre,The Rotunda, 150 New Street, Birmingham, B2 4PA. Tel: 0844 888 3883
Cadbury World is open daily, 10am to 4pm (opening times vary). Entry costs around £14 for adults, £10 children. Cadbury World, Linden Rd
Bournville, Birmingham B30 2LU. Tel: 0845 450 3599
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is open daily, 10am to 5pm (12.30 to 5pm Sunday's). Entry is FREE. Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH. Tel: 0121 303 2834
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is open daily, 10am to 6pm. Entry costs around £8 for adults, £5 children. Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TR. Tel: 0121 454 1860

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