Travellers to Liverpool are spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do, with UNESCO World Heritage sites, world class attractions and a unique cultural heritage that makes it one of the best cities in the UK to visit, but there is so much more to Liverpool than the obvious and the city really shines with its unique quirkiness. Get to the heart of the city with these unique, hidden attractions that only locals know about!
Everyone knows about Liverpool’s incredible architecture, our famous maritime history and our sheer legendary awesomeness, but what you may not know is that Liverpool has a uniquely Scouse quirkiness that comes through in some hidden attractions that most travellers don’t even know about! If you are looking for somewhere more off the beaten track in Liverpool, somewhere that most tourists will miss, overlook or not even know about, then get the insiders guide into some of Liverpool’s most hidden and quirky things to see and do right here from an actual local!
The Beatles Statue.
The Beatles statue is actually a pretty popular tourist attraction so you may be wondering what it is doing on this list, but I promise you there is a lot more than meets the eye here. Donated in 2015 by the Cavern Club, the statue and located almost right in front of the Royal Liver Building on the waterfront, the statue always has a ton of tourists wanting to take a photo with the Fab Four and is even the start of many Beatles Tours.
But what is it exactly that makes this statue so special? Well what most tourists don’t know is that the statue is filled with secret references to the band’s – and the individual members – lives. If you look closely you will find that in John Lennon’s hand there are two small acorns, cast from actual acorns from outside the Dakota building in New York, Lennon’s former home until he was murdered on the steps outside. The acorns represent the two acorns that John and Yoko Ono planted by Coventry Cathedral in 1968 to symbolise both their meeting and world peace. Paul McCartney is holding a camera, a reference to his late wife Linda who was a famous photographer. The number 8 is carved into the sole of Ringo Starr’s shoe, symbolising the Liverpool postcode L8, where he was raised, and finally George Harrison has Sanskrit engraved onto his belt, symbolising the bands many years in India and George’s fascination with the culture that eventually led him to Hinduism. The whole band are stood in order that they would appear on stage and are all very slightly out of step with each other, but what that means you will have to figure out for yourself!
Liverpool’s Fort Knox.
Martins Bank Building is a grand, Grade II listed building in the middle of the city centre and is the former home of the now defunct Martins Bank. Tourists may admire this impressive building’s architecture from afar, but what most don’t know is that this bank was once the centrepiece of one of the most ambitious secret wartime plans in world history. During WWII, Operation Fish was put into action to try and hide Britain’s wealth from Hitler in case the Nazi’s ever invaded. Over 300 tons of solid gold bullion was clandestinely rushed from London and secreted away in the vaults of this bank and kept here for safekeeping until it could be shipped to Canada. Don’t worry, we gave most of it back! Although strangely enough there are a lot of gold rings and pocket watches mysteriously dating back to that time! Don’t ask questions.
The Sanctuary Stone, Castle Street.
Most people walk by this landmark without even realising it is there, even most locals who live and work here don’t even know about it, but if you are walking across Castle Street in the centre of town then look down and you will see the sanctuary stone laid into the ground in its original location. This was the original boundary marker for the Medieval fairs and markets that once took place here and is believed to date back to 1292. The fairs themselves were a huge occasion at the time and for their duration ordinary rules of law were suspended, and according to local legend if any cheeky medieval urchins nicked an apple or two and managed to leg it to the sanctuary stone before the local law got their hands on them they couldn’t be touched! That’s probably not true in reality, what it actually meant was that local Officers of the Crown would give out punishment there and then, but still, why let fact get in the way of a local legend? Especially when it celebrates getting away from the law in that uniquely Scouse way!
William Mackenzie’s Tomb.
Anyone walking past St. Andrews church in Rodney street will see one of Liverpool’s most enigmatic gravestones, the large, pyramid shaped tomb of William Mackenzie. What most people don’t know is that it is shaped like a pyramid because Mackenzie, an ineradicable gambler, was buried sat upright in full evening dress and with a winning pair of cards in his hands. As the legend goes he gambled so much one night that he gambled against the Devil himself and lost his soul in the process, to be claimed once he was dead and buried, so to cheat the Devil out of his prize he was never buried underground so Satan could never claim his soul.
Liverpool Central Library Entrance.
The Liverpool Central Library is a truly stunning building and worth a visit in its own right. One of the finest examples of neo classical architecture in the world and is part of the larger UNESCO World Heritage Site of William Brown Street. But as stunning as it is that is not why it is included on this list! At the entrance to the library is a 72 foot Granite Walkway, inscribed with the titles of dozens of litrary classics, and hidden within these titles is a secret riddle, the answer to which has never been revealed by the library! Can you solve this little mystery?
The Secret Shopping Street.
Located off Castle Street, with an entrance subtly hidden between a hotel and an unassuming restaurant, is Liverpool’s Georgian, Grade II listed shopping street, Queens Avenue. Also known as Liverpool’s Diagon Alley and home to a number of shops including a fine wine merchant and an art gallery, the real reason to take a stroll down here is to admire the Georgian lampposts and shop fronts, once home to Liverpool’s financial and insurance businesses.
The Legend Of The Liver Building.
The Royal Liver building is Liverpool’s Eiffel Tower, it’s Empire State Building, and this magnificent grade I listed building – part of Liverpool’s famous three graces – is an iconic part of Liverpool Waterfront’s UNESCO Heritage status. But for those that look a little deeper may get a little closer to the legendary origins.
Look past the iconic architecture, look past the largest clock in the UK, and you will notice two 18ft statues of a very strange bird. This mythical creature is the Liver Bird, a large bird that was said to once roam the banks of the river Mersey and the symbol of Liverpool. These two statues, a male and a female, face away from each other because as legend says one will always look out to sea, watching out for and protecting the sailors and seamen coming into Liverpool’s famous docks, and the other looks out over the city, protecting the sailors families and the people of Liverpool. If they were ever to turn and face each other, they would mate and fly away, and the city of Liverpool will be swallowed by the waves and the rising banks of the Mersey.
Peering Into Liverpool’s Origins.
Everyone has seen the strange viewing port in Liverpool one that seems to look down onto an old dock, but what most people don’t know is that this dock is not only the worlds first commercial, enclosed wet dock, but it was built on the ‘pool’ that gave Liverpool its name.
Laying buried under Chavasse Park for centuries until excavations began for what is now Liverpool One in 2001, the dock was Liverpool’s original trade centre built in 1715 and due to its unique gate, the first in the world, it allowed trade ships to unload cargo in half the time because they weren’t dependent on the tides, and that led to every trade ship in the world wanting to trade here, changing the fortunes of Liverpool forever.
Another Brick In The Famous Wall.
The Cavern Club is a Liverpudlian Institution, opening up in 1957 as a Jazz club and then becoming the birthplace of the MerseyBeat music genre and most famously as the spiritual home of artists like the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black. Most tourists will end up here to listen to some awesome live music at some point, but many of them will miss a tiny little detail just outside. Alongside the statue of John Lennon there is a wall just outside the club that features bricks that have been carved with every Liverpool based Number 1 UK chart hits since 1952. And there are a lot!
Statue Of Our Cilla.
Think the Beatles were Liverpool’s only gift to the music world? Just across from the statue of John Lennon and the famous bricks is a statue of Cilla Black, the local girl who once worked in the cloak room of the Cavern Club it stands in front of and had a successful music career alongside the Beatles and a TV career after that. Look out for the secret images and song lyrics carved in her dress, it is these little details that raise so many Liverpool statues above and beyond mere attractions!
The Pooley Gates.
Liverpool’s martime history is never far from the surface in this great city and there were fewer more imposing reminders of this than the once great Sailors Home. These grand gates were made by Henry Pooley with design features that reflect on the maritime profession and once stood at the entrance to the building. They were removed during the blitz and a campaign was fought to bring them home again. They now stand in Paradise Street adjacent to the former site of the Sailors Home where they once stood.
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