This is Manchester at its best.
Manchester has recently been designated as one of the best cities in the world. Here's a guided tour of one part of Manchester that should get your cultural juices flowing.
I've walked this route over and over again since I was a kid. This walk is all about the experiential and the transformative - it takes us into a canopy of trees and then through to the heights of Gothic splendour and on to the pyramids of Egypt.
Don't be fooled by the terracotta facade at Whitworth...
...it is a portal into another world that is supplemented by striking contemporary architecture and an oasis of a park that surrounds it, not to mention the world class art on display.
First, take a walk in the park.
After the park, take in the art and then (I hope you're ready for this) head to the Whitworth cafe for a coffee. It is an experience on its own - sat within a canopy of trees.
Remember the Smith's song Vicar in a Tutu?
There's a line in there that mentions this place..
"I was minding my business lifting some lead off the roof of The Holy Name church"
The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus is a grade I listed building built in 1869 by Joseph Hansom (he also invented the Hansom cab). The tower was added later by A G Scott.
This place is a marvel of the Gothic Revival - enter quietly and sit at the back and take it all in.
Compare and contrast the experience to being amongst the trees at the Whitworth cafe.
On the wall at the staircase in the Manchester Museum is a snippet of a poem called (Be) Longing by the Manchester Museum OSCH Young Collective. It reads:
'those of us who dream outside of this corrupt
sarcophagus of gold and solitude
can feel the solidarity sitting inside our hearts
and can transform the outside world
into a place which recognises us
as a vital
and natural part'
The Manchester Museum (which has recently finished a 15m transformation) is full of the spirit of those words.
Make sure you visit the Golden Mummies of Egypt exhibition (book ahead on a busy day - it's free to enter). The exhibition is magical - it feels like time travel - especially when you look into the eyes of those that lived on this earth two thousand years ago and realise that, in terms of the human condition - very little has changed since then.
After the magnificence of the great Gothic Holy Name church this part of the journey takes you into a realm that is on a more personal level. Up close and personal with the people of the past.
The Manchester Wordsquare
It's a little known gem and extremely important in Manchester's history - and the history of Christianity in Britain.
It is one of the earliest surviving material references to Christianity in Britain dating to around 180AD.
The wordsquare reads ROTAS OPERA TENET AREPO SATOR or "Arepo the sower guides the plow with care.'
When re-arranged the letters form the word PATER NOSTER or 'Our Father' in the shape of a cross.
Finish off your cultural extravaganza with a bite to eat. This place has the atmosphere of a Tokyo noodle bar.
One of Manchester's hidden gems. An unassuming urban entrance takes you into a taste sensation. I recommend the Ramen.