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28 Feb 2020 - 3 minutes

10 things you never knew about Birmingham

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Birmingham is the second-biggest city in the UK and home to many interesting places, people and secrets. Whether you’re new to the city or have been living there your whole life, there’s always something new to discover.

Here is our list of 10 things you might not know about Birmingham…

600 parks...

…covering 8,000 acres. That’s a lot of green space, and it makes Birmingham one of the UK’s greenest cities. It also means that the city has more open space than Paris.

The largest public library in Europe

The Library of Birmingham is the largest public library in Europe and lends more than eight million books each year. It is also one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions thanks to its stunning design by world-famous architectural firm Mecanoo, which includes rooftop gardens and a sunken amphitheatre, as well as a shimmering façade which pays homage to Birmingham’s jewellery quarter.

Speaking of which…

Jewel in the crown

Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is home to Europe’s largest collection of jewellery businesses, more than 700 in total. Between them, they supply more than 40% of jewellery made in the UK.

A six-star menu

Birmingham has a reputation as a culinary destination thanks to its six Michelin starred restaurants – more than any other UK city outside of London. That’s a lot of options for keen foodies!

A hotbed of invention

The people of Birmingham simply cannot stop creating new things, registering thousands of patents in the city every year. Some of the most useful and surprising inventions to come out of the city include the x-ray scanner, the smoke detector, the portable vacuum cleaner, fountain pens and the bicycle bell.

A Christmas Carol

Birmingham saw the first public performance of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. 10 years after its publication, the author performed his novel at the Town Hall over the course of three and a half hours.

More canals than Venice

Birmingham developed an intricate system of canals during the Industrial Revolution which is still in use today. The network within the city spans 35 miles in total – almost half as much again as can be found in Venice.

The Golden Boys of Birmingham

Just off Centenary Square, you can find a gilded statue of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch. Between them, these three engineers revolutionised the steam engine in Birmingham and provided the power that would drive the Industrial Revolution.

Home of the hobbits

JRR Tolkien grew up in Birmingham, and the city provided inspiration for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, two of the most successful novels of all time. The city and its surrounds influenced the books from the very start, whether it was the fields and mills of Sarehole becoming the Shire, or Perrott’s Folly and the Waterworks in Edgbaston becoming Mordor.

The home of tennis

Birmingham is considered by many to be the birthplace of tennis. In the 19th century, Spanish merchant Augurio Perera and Birmingham man Harry Gem supposedly combined elements of existing lawn sports – including racquets and Basque pelota – in the search for a brand new game to play.

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