The Manchester Arndale is massive, a mecca to high street shopping without the inconvenience of the actual high street itself: all of the centre’s 240 shops are indoors, making the Arndale the UK’s largest city centre shopping centre. It was originally built in the 1970s, and its “bile yellow” tile-clad exterior won it few fans. In 1996, the Economist called it “one of Europe’s ugliest shopping centres… the epitome of lousy modern architecture”.
That all changed, of course, when the IRA bomb exploded just outside the Arndale on Corporation Street. The bomb caused enormous damage to all of the buildings in the vicinity, but it also kick-started the redevelopment of the Arndale, which was only finally completed in 2006 with the opening of its Winter Garden.
Today, the Arndale is a far more pleasant place to be than its 1970s predecessor, with more natural light and a vastly improved layout. While it offers little that is unique to Manchester, it does at least aim to offer everything under one roof and it is an undeniable success: 38 million people visit it every year. It was also canny enough to retain the original markets it was once famous for during a recent scrub-up; this unlikely haven of independence in a temple of capitalism has more character and vibrancy than the rest of the Arndale combined. It’s an excellent place to grab a top notch lunch, local produce and pints or simply get your phone fixed for a very agreeable price.