The University Manchester is the biggest of the UK, and being also a centre for musical education, Manchester is home to the Royal Northern College of Music and the home town of famous bands and musicians like New Order, Oasis and Doves. Forming part of the English Core Cities Group, often described as the second city of the UK, and the "Capital of the North", Manchester today is a centre of the arts, the media, higher education and commerce.
Manchester is the second most important shopping-metropolis of the UK after London, and offers a lively night life, especially in the Northern Quarter and around Deans gate. The city is also known for its variety of architectural styles, ranging from Victorian to contemporary architecture, such as Manchester Town Hall, in Albert Square, which was built in the gothic revival style and is considered one of the most important Victorian buildings in England.
There are lots of historic houses, country parks, moors, plains, hills and theme parks to visit, and of course galleries like the Manchester Art Gallery or the Chinese Arts Centre, and various museums like the Imperial War Museum North, the Manchester Jewish Museum and the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester, where you can spend exciting afternoons. Manchester's cosmopolitan culture offers more than 30 styles of foreign cuisine, with distinctive Chinese and Asian areas of speciality.
Manchester was at the forefront of the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, and was a leading centre for manufacturing. The city's economy is now largely service-based and is the fastest growing in the UK, with inward investment second only to the capital. Major activities include financial and professional services, life science industries, creative, cultural and media, manufacturing and communications. It has the largest UK office market outside London and is a focus for businesses which serve local, regional and international markets. It is one of the largest financial centres in Europe. Legal, accounting, management consultancy and other professional and technical services exist in Manchester. Manchester is the commercial, educational and cultural focus for North West England, and is ranked as the fourth biggest retail area in the UK by sales.
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