Birmingham is a city located in the county of West Midlands in the country of England. It is the second most populated city in Britain. It covers an area of over one hundred square miles and has a population of over a million residents. Birmingham’s history can be trace back over fourteen hundred years ago to a seventh century hamlet at the edge of the Arden Forest. Over the last two centuries Birmingham has been transformed from a village to an industrialized city. This meteoric rise was caused by factors such as scientific advancement, investment in the cities infrastructure and an influx of foreign workers.

The twentieth century saw Birmingham become a major industrial center for the United Kingdom. Today the economy has shifted from a manufacturing center to a service center. An ever increasing segment of Birmingham’s economy is tourism. And this is due in part to the beautiful hotels, restaurants, musical destinations and historical attractions of the city.

One of the most popular historical attractions in the city is Aston Hall. Aston Hall is a mansion that was built in 1618 in the Jacobean architectural style. This mansion has had a rich history, almost since its inception. In 1643, this mansion was severely harmed by an attack launched by Parliamentary troops. Visitors today can still some of this original damage. There is a gaping hole in the wall where a cannoball went through. The mansion was originally built to serve as the residence of Sir Thomas Holte, and it remained in the Holte family until the early nineteenth century. It was then sold to a private company called Ashton Hall & Park Company to be used as a museum. Later it would be sold to the Birmingham Corporation. In 1927, the Birmingham Civic Society built English style gardens and fountains for the mansion. Today, Ashton Hall is a museum. It now houses artifacts which include furniture, textiles and paintings.

The next historical attraction in Birmingham is not a museum but a pub. Its called the Bartons Arms. It was erected in 1901 by the architectural team of Lister and James Lea. This building is beautifully adorned with wall to wall tile work and its key feature are its Snob Rooms. These were rooms where privileged drinkers could watch the blue collar workers drinking in an adjacent bar without being seen by them. Another popular attraction is the Public Library and Baths. The Public Library and Baths was built in 1891. The library portion was opened in 1895 and the bath portion was opened in 1907. A year later the pool started getting covered over during the winter and the space used for social activities. The main features of this building include baths, a committee room, caretakers flat, a boiler house and a filter room.

Another prominent attraction is the Birmingham Mint. This mint manufactured coins and was originally known as Ralph Heaton and Sons Mint. It was built in the nineteenth century when the Royal Mint started to subcontract private companies to produce coins and tokens. In 1853, the Birmingham Mint got its first contract to strike five hundred tons of copper coins for Britain when the Royal Mint was overwhelmed by its production quota. During the pinnacle of its production, Birmingham mint was striking over one hundred thousand coins each day.

Warwick Castle is a medieval castle located about twenty-five miles outside of Birmingham. Its situated on a cliff located over the River Avon. This castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. From the late eleventh century on the castle belonged to the Earl of Warwick and was an extension of his power until it was seized by Henry II. Over the years the castle was used as a prison and held soldiers from the Battle of Poitiers. In the fifteenth century it was used to imprison King Edward IV. Over its long history the castle has been constantly rennovated and added on to with the addition of towers and other fortifacations. During the seventeenth century non-military additions to the castle included the transformation of the grounds into a garden. This castle was in use until the seventeenth century when Sir Fulke Greville took it over and turned it into a country home. Today, the castle is protected against any unauthorized renovations and is listed as a historic ancient monument.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is both an art gallery and a concert hall. This building is located in the University of Birmingham and was opened in 1939. The collection of art contained here is nothing less than incredible. Its full of works from artist such as Rembrandt, Auguste Rodin, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Giovanni Bellini. Other artist included here are Aubrey Beardsley, Gainsborough, Rossetti, Reynolds and Gauguin. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts also contains an extensive collection of rare coins from the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Over fifteen thousand coins are located here. During the summer months this institution also has many festivals and concerts.

The Thinktank at Millennium Point is a science museum that has over two hundred hands on exhibits spread across four floors. This museum is divided into sections which include the Thinkahead, Planetarium, Thinknow and Kid’s City. The Thinkahead section focuses on future technology and features exhibits such as Nanotechnology, Emotive Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Micro air vehicles. The Planetarium is a digital planetarium that is broadcast on the ceiling via six cameras. In this section visitors can see beautiful views of the night sky. Thinknow features current technology and contains exhibits such as Wildlife and Medice. Kid’s City is a series of exhibits geared toward children. Its contains interactive games and also contains a restaurant and a cafe.

And Birmingham is a city that contains a lot more attractions, hotels and restaurants than can be listed here. Other attractions in the city include Nelson’s Statue, Jewellery Quarter, Cadbury World, The Mailbox, The Bullring, Aviation Experience, Tolkien Trail, National Exhibition Centre, Holy Trinity Church, Council House and Methodist Central Hall.

Norma Freeman