The Barbican: London’s cultural quarter

Much of London is synonymous with culture of one sort or another. When it comes to the barbican it is treading the boards that one thinks of. But there’s much more to this historic part of the capital than meets the eye. Part 1 of Clarendon’s location review of Barbican explores what to see, do, eat, drink and visit.

The name barbican comes from the fortifications that used to surround the City. A watchtower or gate, barbican has long been the buffer zone for the wealthy City. That was in evidence during the Blitz when Barbican was heavily bombed. Extensive rebuilding and regeneration was started but stalled due to funding. It was only finished in 1982.

The area is most famous for the Barbican Centre, a destination known for championing all forms of the arts including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Opened in 1982 the Barbican Centre includes a Hall, Theatre, The Pit, three cinema screens, an art gallery, a library, restaurant and public spaces.

The Barbican Theatre is a must visit for families and those looking for a diverse range of entertainment. This autumn the theatre is home to festival spots from across the globe including CASA Latin American theatre Festival, the Best of BE Festival and Boy Blue Entertainment.

The Barbican Art Gallery uses its vast exhibition space to host large international artist shows. Visual arts, photography, arts and culture; all are showcased in the gallery. This autumn a major exhibition explores iconic Pop Art Design. The gallery runs a programme of workshops and talks alongside its exhibition programme. For those planning a visit to the area, sign up for the Barbican e-newsletter to find out what events are on during your stay.

With three cinema screens, the Barbican shows a range of arthouse and mainstream releases. Artist and filmmaker talks add context to the film programme with a range of festivals and seasons – like Silent Film, Hitchcock, and films about London’s landscapes – adding themes and discussion points. It’s the ideal destination for a casual night out.

The Museum of London is a must-visit for anyone staying nearby. It documents the history of London from pre-historic times through to modern times. There are a range of different exhibitions, photos from the past and archaeological finds. A great place to visit with the family there are plenty of guides and special talks, even during the school holidays. In 2014 a major exhibition will explore one of London’s most famous sons – of screen as well as its cobbled streets – Sherlock Holmes.

Smithfield market is over 140 years old. The capital’s butchers, restaurateurs and caterers are attracted to its wholesale goods of meat, poultry, cheese, pies and other delicatessen goods. The market opens at 4am, as club revellers are heading home. A visit to the Victorian market is all about soaking up the atmosphere so it’s the perfect place for a potter and then a visit to one of its gastro pubs.

For those looking for temporary or extended stay accommodation in Barbican, Clarendon serviced apartment has a range of accommodation including the new Barbican Studios. Providing easy access to the City, the studios are close to the office but are also ideally placed to explore the cultural offer of the area.

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