Watch the world go by and take a look at Manchester’s most controversial architecture at the city’s busiest green space and transport hub.
Enjoy people-watching around the fountain, have a picnic on the lawns or order a drink at one of the cafés at Piccadilly Gardens. This square has always been Manchester’s central transport hub, with connections to the whole city, but looks totally different today than it did 15 years ago. The green space with public transport interchange is surrounded by shops and hotels and is a place where local business people come for lunch and parents on shopping trips take their children to play for a while.
Piccadilly Gardens was transformed shortly after the turn of the millennium because it had fallen into disrepair and the area was regarded unsafe. Many agreed that something needed to change, but, more than a decade later, most Mancunians still haven’t warmed to the new version.
One of the most controversial aspects of the redesign is a large concrete wall. Japanese architect Tadao Ando intended to shield the gardens from the nearby bus and tram interchange, but the structure is referred to as a “brutalist landmark” and “Manchester’s own Berlin Wall.”
One feature that is popular, however, is the large green space. On sunny days children play in the fountains or on the swing and couples picnic on the grass. Join the office workers and enjoy lunch in the outdoors, or people-watch from one of the terraces. Small markets are sometimes held in the square, so bring some cash to buy local treats or wares.
Find some of the few links to the site’s rich past by seeking out the four remaining statues of historical figures, including Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington.
Piccadilly Gardens lies between the popular shopping area of Market Street and the bars and stores of the Northern Quarter. The busy hub is only a five-minute walk from the Piccadilly railway station and a 10-minute walk from the Victoria railway station. Piccadilly Gardens houses a major bus terminal and all Metrolink trams have stops here.