Despite being a large city all the attractions and sights you'll want to see in Liverpool are in a conveniently compact area that can be walked across in half an hour. To get an idea of the city's layout you could take an open top bus tour of the city. These hop-on hop-off services depart from the city centre and Albert Dock every 30 minutes. The two cathedrals, the Albert Dock and the World Museum along with the Walker and Tate Liverpool art galleries are some of the "must see" attractions of this city.
The two cathedrals of Liverpool are at the opposite ends of Hope Street. The Catholic cathedral of Christ the King, is referred to as the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. It has a complex history of development but was eventually consecrated in 1967. It's modern and stunning design by Sir Frank Gibberd features an array of sixteen concrete ribs that support a stained glass lantern. Some locals irreverently refer to it as 'Paddy's wigwam' or the 'Mersey Funnel'. The Anglican cathedral of Christ the King and the Virgin Mary is referred to as Liverpool Cathedral. Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, the foundation stone for the cathedral was laid down in 1904, but the cathedral wasn't finished and consecrated until 1924 due to delays caused by the First World War. Sitting atop of St James' Mount it is much more visible than the Metropolitan Cathedral, but cannot compete with it visually. By comparison the Anglican cathedral looks like a drab copy of some of the great gothic cathedrals elsewhere in the country, whereas the catholic cathedral has a fresh vibrancy attracting you to it. Of course you'll have to see them yourself to make up your own mind. You might also be interested to know that the parish church for Liverpool is our lady and St Nicholas. On the waterfront at Pier head there has been a church on this site since the thirteenth century. The Princes Road Synagogue is in a Grade II listed building and, founded in 1887, the city once had one of the earliest mosques in the country.
Liverpool has several museums well worth visiting; entry to the city's museums is free. For a city that was once known as the Empires second city, Liverpool owes a lot to the trade that has passed through its port. If you visit Liverpool you should take some time to learn and understand the role that Liverpool played in the days of the Empire. A good place to start is the Merseyside Maritime Museum. This tells the story of the ports development, the trade it was involved in and includes the International Slavery Museum which acknowledges and explains Liverpool's participation in the slave trade of the 18th century. The Liverpool world Museum provides exhibitions on natural history, archaeology and modern science with the bonus of being able to visit the free Planetarium. The Walker Art Gallery houses collections of European fine and decorative art including Rembrandt's 'Self-portrait as a young' man dated 1630 and 'The death of Nelson' by Benjamin West, not to mention pieces by Lowry, Sickert and Nash. A Museum of Liverpool, chronicling life in Liverpool down the ages, will open in 2010. There is also a Tate Gallery in Liverpool, located at the Albert Dock its exhibitions tend to be of modern contemporary artists and currently includes a retrospective of Peter Blake's work.
To really understand this city you need to visit the waterfront area, as that is where its entire heritage arises from. The Albert Dock is Liverpool's biggest tourist attraction. Built in 1846 it is now a World Heritage site, 2.75 hectares of water are surrounded by a ring of warehouses that are now trendy, bars, restaurants, apartments, shops and hotels. Pier Head, to the north of Albert Docks, is a stone pier that was built in 1760. As well as being the landing point for the Mersey Ferry it was the departure point for millions of emigrants on their way to America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. From here you can also see Liverpool's famous Three Graces, these are; the Port of Liverpool Building, the Cunard Building and the Liver Building, with the 5.5m high copper Liver Bird.
There are plenty of other things in Liverpool worth seeing. Around Hope Street and Rodney Street are some impressive Georgian buildings. The cast-iron framed train shed, at Lime Street station, when it was built in 1867 was the largest in the world. At one time Liverpool's concert hall, St George's Hall on William Brown Street is a neo-classical building originally intended to be the city's law courts. It was paid for by the lucrative transatlantic trade of the port. The current Liverpool Town Hall was built in 1754 and is one of Liverpool's oldest buildings.
The home of the 'Sound of the sixties', it would be difficult to visit Liverpool and not be drawn into visiting one of the attractions associated with the phenomena that was The Beatles. Now situated within the cavern Shopping Centre, you can still see the doorway into the famous Cavern Club on Matthew Street. At Albert Docks there is The Beatles Story which takes you through the history of the 'fab four' from childhood to the recent legacy projects. The National Trust now owns Mendips, in Woolton, where John Lennon grew up and 20 Forthlin Road, in Allerton, where Sir Paul McCartney grew up. Or you could take one of the organised Beatles Tours, Phil Hughes or the Magical Mystery Tour being two well known ones. These will show around all the sites, including Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, as well as making sure you get all the background information there is to know.