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Belfast's classical Renaissance-style City Hall was built in fine, white Portland stone in 1906. Highlights of the free, 45-minute guided tour include the sumptuous, wedding-cake Italian marble of the rotunda; an opportunity to sit on the mayor's throne in the council chamber; and the idiosyncratic portraits of past lord mayors. On the ground floor and accessible outside tour times are a series of commemorative stained-glass windows and a visitor exhibition with displays on Belfast's history spread across 16 rooms.
The Industrial Revolution transformed Belfast in the 19th century. The city's rapid rise to prosperity is reflected in the extravagance of the building. The hall is fronted by a statue of a rather dour 'we are not amused' Queen Victoria. The bronze figures on either side of her symbolise the textile and shipbuilding industries. The child at the back represents education.
At the northeastern corner of the grounds is a statue of Sir Edward Harland, the Yorkshire-born marine engineer who founded the Harland & Wolff shipyards and who served as mayor of Belfast from 1885 to 1886. To his south stands a memorial to the victims of the Titanic.
Guided tours are at 11am, 2pm and 3pm Monday to Friday and at noon, 2pm and 3pm Saturday and Sunday. From June to September additional tours are offered at 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday and 4pm Saturday and Sunday. Sign up at the reception desk or book by phone.