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Piccadilly Gardens

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by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published January 29th 2014
In the heart of Manchester is an area which deserves its own article here. In the city known for its great universities and 'Curry Mile', there are lots of fascinating hotspots, and Piccadilly Gardens is certainly one. Described as an 'urban oasis', it's been the site of a lunatic asylum and library, but since 2000 has undergone massive redevelopment to become somewhere people might want to go to meet, relax and enjoy the city.

There are four monumental statues across the square, celebrating major British figures.

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Robert Peel in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens


Queen Victoria, Wellington, Watt and Peel all make an appearance.

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James Watt in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens


The aim is to commemorate the ages of modern Manchester.


In the centre is an area which is a fountain, or when the water is not switched on, a haven for pigeons. Created by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, it is also surrounded by low stone benches where people can stop and watch the world go by. This modern aspect was part of the preparation for when Manchester hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and the regeneration is a great legacy from the sporting event, resulting in a 2003 shortlist nomination for a Better Public Building Award.

manchester, piccadilly, tadao, fountain, pigeons
Pigeons over the fountain, Manchester Piccadilly Gardens


The square is overshadowed by a giant ferris wheel which works seven days a week. Opened very recently, in 2013, it dominates the skyline and lights up the night.

manchester, piccadilly, gardens, ferris, wheel
Manchester Wheel


Around the square are many fascinating buildings, including a number of 'listed' ones, that is, ones marked as important for heritage reasons. It's worth looking closely, as you never know quite what you'll spot, as these stone lions demonstrate.

manchester, piccadilly, gardens, stone, lions
Stone Lions in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens


There are chain shops such as a Co-op, Boots and Primark, and pub chains such as Wetherspoons. It's not a commercial centre, but you can pick up essentials. There are also regular visiting markets which offer great retail variety.

The Manchester Evening News offices are only just round the corner, as well as visitor centres. This is an area which proclaims its pride in the city loudly, and invites local residents and visitors alike to participate in the high-energy atmosphere.

If you're interested in staying, there are hotels around the square. The Thistle hotel lies along one side, and the Mercure and Britannia hotels are only just off it.

Public transport runs all around the area, and it's known as a transport hub. The tram runs along one side, a number of buses pass through or terminate here; the main National Rail station (Manchester Piccadilly) is just a few minutes away, down Piccadilly.

queen, victoria, manchester, piccadilly, gardens, statue
Queen Victoria in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens


It's definitely worth stopping off and passing through, as a chance to observe the changing face of an area, dip your toes in the past and experience the present of this vibrant city.
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Why? The developing heart of the city
Where: Piccadilly Gardens
Your Comment
I didn't know Manchester had a ferris wheel.

I like the statue of Queen Victoria; it's very grand.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|11767) 1547 days ago
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