If you’ve never been to Bradford, then this blog post will be of an interest to you. The pretty wide winding and surprisingly hilly streets, the beautiful architecture, the diversity of the people and cultures, UNESCO heritage, catacombs, oh and let’s not forget the food…
I know what you are thinking, a day trip to Bradford seems unassuming as it is not on the map as other popular cities but Bradford is only 20 minutes by train from Leeds costing approximately £5.50 return, and since I had to come to Leeds for a weekend, I thought it will be fun to explore.
Bradford City Hall
I have a fondness of historical architecture buildings. I always feel if like their walls could talk – what amazing stories they will tell us.
5 minutes walk from the train station and you arrive at Bradford city centre. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this magnificent building. I mean look at this city hall and its amazing architecture! It was opened in 1873, the building was designed in the Venetian style where it’s bell tower was inspired by the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Bradford City Park
Around the corner from the city hall is the Bradford City Park which is a public space in the heart of the city. The park features manicured gardens as well as a large event space that is regularly used for community events, exhibitions, and market stalls. And a mirror pool which holds the highest fountain in Britain, with water that can reach 30 metres high. This is a play fountain especially during the summer time, you can see children or adults alike wade through the water or cycle through. I was so tempted to dip my toes in ….perhaps the next time, it was bit chilly that day haha!
The water was drained and this space was used to host the Eid festival.
Wandering around the city centre and around every corner, you encounter yet another beautiful architectural building.
Bradford Alhambra Theatre (Haunted)
Named after the Alhambra palace in Granada (Spain), it is a receiving house for large-scale touring theatre of all types and the main house seats 1,456. They have been known to host Lion King and Lion King production has given them the mask as a symbol of gratitude to the Alhambra Theatre.
If you go inside, ask nicely for a tour and if it is quiet, the lovely manager will show you around. She was so friendly and even took us backstage. My first time on a theatre stage and I can now imagine the full scale of how it works. What’s even more exciting, this theatre is bloody haunted! The manager told us stories how she will be at work late typing away and someone shushed her or the time when 2 older gentlemen were standing in the foyer only to disappear moments later. What’s even more convincing was after closing time, and the manager realised the windows were opened again. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it still made a good story. (Oh and the manager has been working there for 20 odd years – I am inclined to believe her haha).
National Science and Media Museum (UNESCO)
Bradford is the first city to become the UNESCO City of Film with attractions such as the National Science and Media Museum, the Alhambra theatre and Cartwright Hall.
Located next to the Alhambra theatre, the museum features galleries highlighting television, animation, photography, video games, film and the Internet. The museum is also home to the UK’s first IMAX theatre!
My favourite place has to be the old school arcade on the top floor! I was like a kid in a candy store – they have old school games like street fighter, Sega, and Sonic – it’s a fun place to relive your childhood days or experience a new gaming one.
The Wool Exchange Building
I learnt that Bradford was an important player during the country’s Industrial Revolution. The city specialised in textile production and became a major player as an international centre of textile manufacture, particularly wool.
Today, this beautiful building is home to Waterstones bookstore, and it is absolutely stunning inside, with its high ceilings and spiral staircase. It is also home to a cafe upstairs with lovely cakes and coffee.
Sunbridge Wells (Catacombs)
This is something which you don’t see every day. Bradford has an underground retail complex right in the heart of Bradford’s historic trading quarter. Known as the Sunbridge Wells, it is a shopping area during the day with contemporary shop units and restaurants. At night time, the pubs and bars within the catacomb opens and becomes an area for bustling nightlife.
Nicknamed as the catacombs, there are around 3 entrances where you can go underground and through walk tunnels which are lined with artworks, unique historical structures, and pop-up stores. You have to visit to experience it for yourself.
Food and Malls
Every city has a spanking new shopping centre, Bradford is called The Broadway featuring big name brands and chain stores in one place. Conveniently located in Bradford town centre, The Broadway is open every day and has the big name food stores such as Patisserie Valerie and Five Guys. (They were giving away Coke Zero when I visited -so bloody hard to decline little coke cans)
Had a quick brunch at Patisserie Valerie – got to love Egg Florentine and good ol English breakfast.
Bradford is also known for its real ale culture and there are plenty of real ale houses in the city, offering a taste of the variety and diversity available in the world of real ale.
Bradford is considered to be Britain’s ‘Curry Capital’ as it is the only city to win that title five years in a row with numerous curry houses. I was told that Karachi is one of the city’s most famous Asian restaurants and to visit the oldest curry house in Bradford, Sweet Centre.
Here’s a fun thing to do – comment below and tell me how many of these can you name?
What about you? How would you spend a day in Bradford?
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