Chetham's is a stunning piece of the 15th century that has survived more or less intact to the present day, the former college's library and surrounding cloisters exuding an almost tangible sense of history. Within its impressive walls, Karl Marx and adopted Mancunian Friedrich Engels met to research the birth of Communist theory.
Reading bays with lockable iron gates (a novel security measure introduced in 1740) are a feature. This is a functioning library (and the oldest in the English-speaking world), so always ring ahead to check all rooms are available to visit.
Weekly guided tours take in further buildings - booking well in advance is recommended. The adjoining school of music is the largest of its kind in the UK and puts on 100 public performances a year, plus free lunchtime concerts most weekdays.