Another revitalized area of Belfast’s city center city is Victoria Square, the site of a tasteful multi-story shopping mall. Parallel to the downtown shopping area it hasn’t so much supplanted Royal Avenue as the main drag as provided a high-end complement to the High Street. The structure is semi-enclosed, like a giant breezeway with levels of restaurants and movie theaters sandwiched between the retail raison d’etre. Crowned by a centralÂ geodesic dome the public spaces are flooded with the rarest of Irish commodities: natural light. That alone would be enough to warrant a round of applause yet the designers didÂ somethingÂ really clever with what couldÂ have easily been wasted negative space:Â utilizingÂ theÂ practicalÂ aestheticsÂ of the dome toward a civic end. From the top-level of theÂ shopping center the public can ascend a circular staircase to a shelteredÂ viewing platform. And while Belfast doesn’t come close to having a skyline that warrants a Top of the Rock, the Stare on the Square – public monuments inÂ IrelandÂ requiresÂ aÂ mellifluousÂ moniker if you hadn’t heard; the sculpture at the entrance might officially be known as The Spirit of Belfast but to locals it will always be Onion Rings – is an ideal height forÂ views out toÂ theÂ Harland & Wolf shipyards, where Titanic was built, and Napoleon’s Nose, theÂ inspirationÂ for Swift’s tales of Lilliput. Shopping, it seems, really can qualify as a cultural pursuit. Double-click theÂ panoramicÂ image at the bottom for greater detail.