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Introducing Liverpool

Dogged, determined and for many decades down-at-heel, Liverpool just refused to go down. When unfancied Liverpool FC overcame a 3–0 half-time deficit to win the 2005 European Champions’ League final, it transcended the much narrower boundaries of football and was quickly adopted by this passionate, football-mad city as the latest – and most poetic – expression of Scouse defiance in the face of all the odds.

Most people are familiar with the concept of home-town pride, but in Liverpool they’re just that little bit more in love with the city. They’ll slag it off all right – slagging has always been an Olympic sport around here – but it’s a critique born of a deep pride that these days is extremely well placed.

Liverpool is 2008's European Capital of Culture, and the city has spent the last few years getting ready for the ball. Handsome old buildings have had facials and brand-new ones shine spotlessly on the skyline. The once boarded-up warehouses of the city centre have been transformed into new shops, cafés and fancy apartments.

Impressive stuff, no doubt, but it’s the culture on offer that really has us buzzing. The city’s store of superb museums and top-class art galleries – all free – have put paid to the scurrilous rumour that Liverpool peaked with the Beatles: in 2004 the whole of the waterfront and docks was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site because there are more listed buildings here than in any other city in England except London. And then, of course, the nightlife: as rich and varied as you’d expect from a good northern city.