Catriona takes the tour.
Catriona visits the home of the biggest sporting club in the world … but that's not all Manchester has to offer.
The Renaissance city of Manchester is stylish, sophisticated and entertaining. Dating back to AD79, when it was under Roman occupation, Manchester is now firmly established as a European centre of culture. As England's second largest city, it has two symphony orchestras and the best repertory theatre scene outside of London (plus beautifully restored Victorian venues). It is also one of the UK's largest commercial, financial and educational centres.
The 14th century saw the arrival of Flemish weavers who worked with wool and linen. Cotton from the American colonies arrived in the 18th century, and with the abundance of coal, water and canal links, Manchester became the hub of the textile industry, and eventually the Industrial Revolution. These days, old warehouses are used as trendy housing.
At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, Manchester was a model for the emerging industrial society, leading the world into the modern age.
A city of many firsts, it had the first public library in 1653, the Bridgewater Canal was engineered in 1761 and a bus service between Manchester and Salford in 1824 began public transport. A passenger railway station was built in 1830.
In 1868 the first meeting of the TUC was held in the Mechanics’ Institute, and the first professional football league was set up in 1888 at the Royal Hotel. Marks and Spencer opened in Hulme in 1894 and the first and obviously very successful meeting of Mr Rolls and Mr Royce took place in 1904. In 1919, Ernest Rutherford first split the atom at Manchester University, and in 1948 the commercial computer was developed.
Quite possibly the most famous and popular of all the city's achievements was in 1968, when Manchester United became the first English football team to win the European Cup, and the first to twice achieve the FA Cup and championship in the same year (1993-94 and 1995-96).
Today, Manchester United is the world's largest and wealthiest football club. It's so big it is listed on the stock exchange and has its own television station for obsessed fans.
Modern Manchester is a mix of old and new. Stunning contemporary architecture stands next to marvellous examples of Victorian Gothic buildings. Old train tracks and modern motorways keep people moving.
The city has also produced its share of popular musicians such as Simply Red, 10CC, Oasis and Take That. Ray Donaldson’s Vinyl Exchange is the second largest used CD and record store in England. The staff are knowledgeable, and they're sure to find what you want among their thousands of offerings.
Right now Manchester is in pre-Commonwealth Games mode. Everything is being washed, polished, painted and prepared for visitors to the 17th Games, which are anticipated to be the biggest ever.
Hotels, restaurants, nightlife and shopping are abundant. One area is called Curry Mile, confirming that Indian cuisine is now by far Britain's most popular.
Le Meridien Victoria and Albert Hotel is a listed brick-sided warehouse which was once housed cotton. Granada Television bought the building and created 158 suites and rooms, naming some of them after their most popular productions Brideshead Revisited, Moll Flanders, Sherlock Holmes, Coronation Street and King Lear.
A visit to Manchester just isn't complete without taking the Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour. Each tour lasts over an hour and there are 42 each day again reinforcing the popularity of the sport and this team.
From the North Stand you can view the entire stadium. Afterwards, visit the Press Theatre where managers give post-match press conferences. It's also where the press and VIP lounges are. This space doubles as a pre-match dining room for players, and then becomes an area for spectators during games.
Walk through the centre tunnel and actually stand in the dugout where managers stand during matches. You can peek into the dressing rooms and players' lounge, and walk along the players' tunnel, imagining the butterflies which usually accompany that walk.