Town Guide

Centenary Square is home to many sights, including the International Convention Centre and the Repertory Theatre.

As a result, it is one of the key places that any visitor to Birmingham should head for.

| Centenary Square | International Convention Centre | Symphony Hall |

| Birmingham Repertory Theatre | Hall of Memory |

Centenary Square

This square is located to the west of the city centre, and is a great place to head for as a starting place to see the sights.

The square is relatively new, for it was opened in 1989 to mark the centenary of Birmingham's status as a city, hence the name.

Centenary Square is well worth a visit in itself, for it is very pretty, with more than half a million coloured bricks paving the area.

There are also several pieces of sculpture in the square, including the centrepiece - the controversial "Forward" sculpture by Birmingham artist Raymond Mason.

However, Centenary Square is probably best known for the fact that it is home to some of Birmingham's most famous buildings.

These include the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Hall of Memory, the International Convention Centre and Symphony Hall which is home to the world famous Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

International Convention Centre

Birmingham's International Convention Centre was opened by the Queen in 1991, and was Britain's first purpose-built convention centre.

However, the history of the centre dates back much further. For way before today's International Convention Centre was built in Centenary Square, Bingley Hall stood on the site.

Bingley Hall was built in 1851 and for over a hundred years was the venue of numerous meetings, shows and exhibitions. But sadly the hall burnt down in the 1980s, and so the International Convention Centre was built to replace it, at a cost of over £200 million.

The massive Centre has eleven separate halls, including the world famous Symphony Hall, and can be used for all manner of events.

The Centre has been a central features of Birmingham's rejuvenation for Birmingham is now Britain's foremost convention city with around 80% of the UK's trade conventions taking place here, many of them at this centre.

The building in itself is very modern and not to everyone's taste, but nevertheless the conventions held here account for tens of thousands of visitors who travel to Birmingham every year.

Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall, located within the International Convention Centre, is home to the acclaimed Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

This award winning orchestra has become world famous and it cited by many as one of the primary catalysts for the recent rejuvenation of Birmingham.

The Symphony Hall has an excellent reputation for its superb acoustics. In fact some experts regard it as "the best concert hall in Europe".

As you would expect the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra holds regular recitals here, but other visiting companies also use the hall for a wide variety of performances.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre

This theatre, situated in Centenary Square, dates from 1913 and is home to one of the oldest, and most renowned, theatre companies in Britain.

Traditionally called simply "The Rep", it has an excellent reputation and regularly receives critical acclaim. Plenty of famous actors and actresses, including Laurence Olivier and Albert Finney, have all performed here.

There are two stages in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre - the 900-seat Main House, which is where most of the mainstream shows are performed, and the smaller 140 seat Studio Theatre, which is usually home to more experimental and cutting edge performances.

If you fancy going to a show, seats will cost you anything from £5 to £15 depending on what you want to see.

Hall of Memory

This octagonal building, located in Centenary Square, is a war memorial commemorating the Birmingham men who have given their lives for their country.

The Hall was built in the 1920s, initially as a memorial to those who died in the First World War. However, since then it has been expanded to also remember those who died in subsequent conflicts such as the Second World War and the Falklands.

The Hall is built with Portland Stone and around the outside are four bronze statues representing the branches of the armed forces. And once inside, there is a book of remembrance to those who died.

The Hall of Memory is open from 10am to 4pm Mondays to Saturdays. Entry is free.

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