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Belfast City Hall | Courtesy of Tourism NI
Belfast City Hall | Courtesy of Tourism NI
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A Tour of Belfast’s Victorian Architectural Landmarks

Picture of Niall McGrade
Updated: 2 October 2017
Belfast’s architectural heritage ranges from mock-Gothic to neo-classical to cutting-edge modern architecture, and its buildings are one of the best things about the city. Its Victorian architecture, however, just might be the most beautiful. If you want to know the best of the best, here’s our list of the most beautiful Victorian buildings in Belfast.
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Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast (1849)

One of the centres of the city, Queen’s University’s main building is the Lanyon Building, named after its architect Charles Lanyon, who designed so many buildings in Belfast that he could have a list of his own. Some people compare the structure to Hogwarts due to its towers and façade, and that’s not so far a stretch as you might think. Lanyon’s design borrowed features from medieval universities and Oxford’s Magdalen College in particular. QUB is the epicentre of city life for thousands of people and a crucial landmark for thousands more.

Queen’s University, University Rd, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9024 5133

Queen’s University Belfast | Courtesy of Tourism NI

City Hall (1906)

City Hall only just edges into this list, opening its doors in 1906, four years after Queen Victoria’s death. However, its building was a result of the Queen’s granting Belfast its city status, and construction of the hall began in 1888. The building features the Baroque Revival style, and it cost a monumental £369,000 to build. Adjusted for inflation, this works out to a whopping £128 million. It’s paid off, though, as City Hall is truly the centre of the city.

Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9032 0202

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall | Courtesy of Tourism NI
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Botanic Gardens Palm House (1852)

Another Lanyon work, the Palm House is a large glasshouse containing a great variety of tropical plants. Northern Ireland is not known for its good weather, and it is only through contemporary advances in glasshouse technology that these plants could be cultivated. There is also an accompanying Tropical Ravine, which is currently undergoing renovations and should reopen in early 2018.

Botanic Gardens Palm House, College Park E, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9031 4762

Botanic Gardens’ Palm House | © Greg Clarke / Flickr

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Crown Liquor Saloon (1885)

The Crown Liquor Saloon is notable for many things, including the fact it is the only pub owned by the National Trust. Although the pub had previously operated as The Railway Tavern, it was renovated and renamed in 1885. The bar features unique multicoloured tiles, stained glass, and decorative carved ceilings, which is distinctively uncommon for Belfast. Owner Felix O’Hanlon persuaded Italian craftsmen (who were working on churches around the city) to work on the renovations, leading to The Crown’s characteristic grandiosity.

The Crown Liquor Saloon, 46 Great Victoria St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9024 3187

The Crown Bar’s Interior | © Neil Rickards / Flickr

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St George’s Market (1896)

The present St George’s Market was built between 1890 and 1896, but there has been a market on the site since 1604. St George’s is now the oldest covered market in Belfast and has won multiple awards. After a 1997 refurbishment costing almost £5 million, the market is better than ever and is one of Belfast’s must-sees. It is open from 9 am to 3 pm every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

St George’s Market, 12-20 East Bridge Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9043 5704

St. George’s Market | © William Murphy / Flickr

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Albert Memorial Clock (1869)

Built as a memorial to Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, the Albert Clock is a large sandstone clock tower near Belfast’s docks. As a result of its position near the River Farset, which flows under Belfast, the tower actually used to have a slight lean, although it’s in no danger of collapse following a renovation project completed in 2002. During this renovation, most of the carvings around the tower were replaced, and the statue of Prince Albert himself stands on a pedestal on the west side of the tower.

Albert Memorial Clock, Queens Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

The Albert Clock during the Belfast Tall Ships | Courtesy of Tourism NI

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Grand Opera House (1895)

Frank Matcham was a late 19th-century architect who carved a niche for himself as a prolific designer of theatres. The Grand Opera House was one of his earlier works, and it is about as successful as a theatre could be. Despite several bombings and a century in operation, the Grand Opera House is still going strong. Whilst you can see the other buildings, and even enter many of them, this is one building that you can use as it was originally intended to be used.

Grand Opera House, 2-4 Great Victoria St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 028 9024 1919

Grand Opera House | © William Murphy / Flickr