The usual face of Coventry is that of a modern industrial city, but in fact it has a long and noble history.
The old City Centre was largely demolished as the result of a fierce three nights of bombing in 1940, during the Second World War. Coventry was one of the worst places hit.
There has been much post-war reconstruction, including the magnificent Coventry Cathedral, designed by Sir Basil Spence and consecrated in 1962, which stands beside the ruins of the previous cathedral destroyed by the bombs.
Coventry was the first city in England to introduce the concept of pedestrian precincts and other innovations to calm traffic and make itself safer for those on foot.
Among a good number of old buildings to survive are the Guildhall of St. Mary; the splendid Holy Trinity Church, with its magnificent doom painting; and some old almshouses.
Coventry was one of the major cities of the old Kingdom of Mercia, and is the scene for the legend of Lady Godiva, said to have ridden naked through the streets to ensure that her husband reduced the townspeople's crippling taxes. Godiva and her husband, Earl Leofric, were historical persons in the 11th century.
In more modern times, Coventry has been world renowned for bicycle manufacture, and later for the manufacture of cars.
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum is situated close to the cathedral, and has displays on the city's history and industries. The Museum of Road Transport, modernised at the beginning of the 21st century, has a superb collection of cars and other forms of road transport.
"The Coventry Carol" is an old English song for Christmas. Taking the form of a lullaby, it refers to Herod's Slaughter of the Innocents after Jesus's birth. The mothers were trying to keep their children quiet, so they would not be killed. This carol was connected with the Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, one of the mediaeval Coventry mystery plays.
To be "sent to Coventry" means to be shunned or ostracised. The expression comes from the Civil War, when after the Battle of Preston Royalist soldiers were imprisoned in St. John's Church. The townspeople supported Parliament, and refused to speak to the prisoners.
Coventry University was founded in 1992, while the much better known Warwick University is on the outskirts of Coventry.
The city is said to be the original of Middlemarch, written by the Warwickshire-born George Eliot.
Among the famous people born in Coventry are the critic Cyril Connolly; golfer Laura Davies; actor Nigel Hawthorne; singer Vince Hill; singer Frank Ifield; poet Philip Larkin; actress Ellen Terry; actress Billie Whitelaw; inventor of the jet engine Frank Whittle; and footballer Nigel Winterburn.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Coventry for groups.