Town Guide

This pretty square is an excellent starting out point from which to explore Birmingham for it is very central to many tourist sights.

And it is also home to, among other buildings, the city's Town Hall, Council House and Central Library.

| Victoria Square | Town Hall | Council House | Central Library |

Victoria Square

This elegant pedestrianised square is located at the western end of New Street. It is one of Birmingham's nicer squares so is a good starting off point from which to explore the city.

In the centre of the square is a statue of Queen Victoria, which was placed here in 1901. Prior to this the square was known as Council House Square, but after the arrival of the statue it was re-named.

Also in Victoria Square is a memorial to Joseph Chamberlain and a huge fountain known as "The River". This is one of the biggest fountains in Europe and has a flow of around 3,000 gallons of water per minute.

But these are all overshadowed by the square's most notable building, the elegant 19th century Council House.

Other notable buildings in Victoria Square include the Birmingham Central Library and the Town Hall.

Council House

This building, located in Victoria Square, is one of Birmingham's few remaining Victorian buildings, and it is widely considered to be one of the best of those few.

Much of the city centre was flattened by bombs during the Second World War, and so a great deal of the city's architecture is the result of uninspiring post-war planning.

And as a result the Council House stands out. The building was built between 1875 and 1879 by renowned architect Yeoville Thomason, and it is classically Victorian in design.

Ever since then it has been home to Birmingham City Council and it is still used to this day for council business.

The Council House is not generally open to the public, however the Banqueting Suite can be hired for functions.

Town Hall

Birmingham's elegant Town Hall is located in Victoria Square on the western edge of New Street.

The Hall was built in 1832 by Joseph Hansom, and the design is based on the Temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome.

Initially the building was a music venue, but over the years it has been used for many other functions including meetings and exhibitions.

Much of Birmingham city centre was destroyed during the second world war and as a result the Town Hall is one of only a handful of Victorian buildings still surviving in Birmingham.

The classic design and graceful columns therefore offer a welcome relief from much of the city's 20th century architecture.

Today the hall continues its tradition as a multi-purpose venue for it continues to be used for all manner of concerts and exhibitions.

Central Library

Birmingham's Central Library, located in Victoria Square, is one of the largest libraries in Europe with an estimated 30-odd miles of shelves!

In particular it is worth visiting the Shakespeare Memorial Room which houses a collection of more than 50,000 books relating to the great bard and his work. But please note that you need to arrange a visit in advance if you want to see this collection.

The rest of the library is housed on 8 floors, with the collection divided into subject areas. This main part of the library is open to the public for browsing, however in order to borrow a book you must be a member of the library.

Not quite so impressive as the library's collections is the building itself - a vast expanse of concrete once described by Prince Charles as looking like an incinerator!

The main library is open daily except Sundays. Opening hours are 9am to 8pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am to 5pm Sundays. Admission is free.

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