Top Historic Sights in Belfast, United Kingdom

Explore the historic highlights of Belfast

Belfast City Hall

The site now occupied by Belfast City Hall was once the home of the White Linen Hall, an important international Linen Exchange. Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria. This was in recognition of Belfast"s rapid expansion and thriving linen, rope-making, shipbuilding and engineering industries. Construction began in 1898 under the supervision of architect ...
Founded: 1898 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

St. Anne's Cathedral

St Anne"s Cathedral is unusual in serving two separate dioceses (Connor and Down and Dromore).  The foundation stone being laid in 1899 by the Countess of Shaftesbury. The old parish church of St Anne by Francis Hiorne of 1776 had continued in use, up until 31 December 1903, while the new cathedral was constructed around it; the old church was then demolished. The Good Samaritan window, to be seen in the ...
Founded: 1899 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Albert Memorial Clock

The Albert Memorial Clock was completed in 1869 and is one of the best known landmarks of Belfast. It was built as a memorial to Queen Victoria"s late Prince Consort, Prince Albert. The sandstone memorial was constructed between 1865 and 1869 by Fitzpatrick Brothers builders and stands 113 feet tall in a mix of French and Italian Gothic styles. The base of the tower features flying buttresses with heraldic ...
Founded: 1865 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House is a theatre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed by the most prolific theatre architect of the period, Frank Matcham. It opened on 23 December 1895. Variety programmes dominated in the 1920s and 1930s and the theatre saw performances by Gracie Fields, Will Fyffe and Harry Lauder. It became a repertory theatre during World War II and at the celebrations to mark the end of the war, Eise ...
Founded: 1895 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum, located in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, has around 8,000 square metres of public display space, featuring material from the collections of fine art and applied art, archaeology, ethnography, treasures from the Spanish Armada, local history, numismatics, industrial archaeology, botany, zoology and geology. It is the largest museum in Northern Ireland. The Ulster Museum was founded as ...
Founded: 1929 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Belfast Castle

Belfast Castle is set on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park, providing views over the city of Belfast and Belfast Lough. The original castle, built in the late 12th century by the Normans, was located in the town itself, flanked by the modern day High Street, Castle Place and Donegall Place in what is now Belfast city centre. This was the home of The 1st Baron Chichester (better known as Sir Arthur Chichester), bu ...
Founded: 1811-1870 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Botanic Gardens of Belfast

The Botanic Gardens of Belfast opened in 1828 as the private Royal Belfast Botanical Gardens. It continued as a private park for many years, only opening to members of the public on Sundays prior to 1895. Then it became a public park in 1895 when the Belfast Corporation bought the gardens from the Belfast Botanical and Horticultural Society. Occupying 28 acres (110,000 m2) of south Belfast, the gardens are popular with ...
Founded: 1828 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Parliament Building of Belfast

Parliament Buildings, often referred to as Stormont because of its location in the Stormont Estate area of Belfast, is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for the region. The need for a separate parliament building for Northern Ireland emerged with the creation of the Northern Ireland Home Rule region within Ulster in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. In 1922, a design by S ...
Founded: 1922 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Clonard Monastery

Clonard Monastery was developed by the Catholic Redemptorists religious order. Members of this religious order came to Belfast originally in 1896. They initially built a small tin church in the grounds of Clonard House in 1897. In 1890 a monastery was opened in these grounds and in 1911 the Church of the Holy Redeemer opened in the grounds and replaced the tin church. Clonard is also used as a music venue for many ...
Founded: 1890 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

St. Malachy's Church

Saint Malachy"s Church is the third oldest Catholic Church in the city of Belfast. The foundation stone was laid in 1841. On December 15, 1844 Dr William Crolly, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland dedicated the building. The church is regarded as one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival churches in Ireland. It was designed by Thomas Jackson of Waterford and it is in the ecclesiastical sty ...
Founded: 1841-1844 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Giant's Ring

The Giant"s Ring is a henge monument at Ballynahatty, near Shaw"s Bridge, Belfast. It dates from the Neolithic period and was built around 2700 BCE. It is near the Shaw"s Bridge crossing of the River Lagan, a point which has been used as a crossing of the river since at least the Stone Age. The original purpose of the monument was most likely as a meeting place or as a memorial to the dead. The ...
Founded: 2700 BCE | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Stormont Castle

Stormont Castle is a mansion in east Belfast which is used as the main meeting place of the Northern Ireland Executive. It was never a castle as such: the original building was reworked in the nineteenth century in the Scottish baronial style with features such as bartizans used for decorative purposes. Between 1921 and 1972, it served as the official residence of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. However, ...
Founded: 1830 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Steinvikholm Castle

Steinvikholm Castle is an island fortress built between 1525 to 1532 by Norway's last Catholic archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson. Steinvikholm castle became the most powerful fortification by the time it was built, and it is the largest construction raised in the Norwegian Middle Ages.

The castle occupies about half of the land on the rocky island. The absence of a spring meant that fresh water had to be brought from the mainland. A wooden bridge served as the only way to the island other than boat. Although the castle design was common across Europe in 1525, its medieval design was becoming obsolete because of the improved siege firepower offered by gunpowder and cannons.

The castle was constructed after Olav Engelbrektsson returned from a meeting with the Pope in Rome, presumably in anticipation of impending military-religious conflict. As Archbishop Engelbrektsson's resistance to the encroachment of Danish rule escalated, first with Frederick I of Denmark and his successor Christian III of Denmark, Steinvikholm Castle and Nidarholm Abbey became the Catholic Church's military strongholds in Norway. In April 1537, the Danish-Norwegian Reformation succeeded in driving the archbishop from the castle into exile in Lier in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), where he died on 7 February 1538. At the castle the archbishop left behind St. Olav's shrine and other treasures from Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim). The original coffin containing St. Olav's body remained at Steinvikholm until it was returned to Nidaros Cathedral in 1564. Since 1568 St. Olav's grave in Nidaros has been unknown.

From the 17th to 19th century, the island was used as a quarry and some of its masonry was sold and removed from the site. This activity was condoned by the Danish-Norwegian authorities as a way of eliminating a monument to the opposition of the Danish–Norwegian Union.

Steinvikholm fort is owned and operated today by The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. The island has been the site of the midnight opera which details the life and struggles of the archbishop. The opera is held in August annually. The opera is organized by Steinvikholm Musikkteater since the beginning in 1993.