Getty Images/Perspectives

City Hall

Top choice in Belfast

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Belfast attractions

1. Linen Hall Library

0.08 MILES

Established in 1788 to 'improve the mind and excite a spirit of general inquiry', the Linen Hall Library houses some 260,000 books, more than half of…

2. St Malachy's Church


Catholic St Malachy's was built between 1841 and 1844 by Thomas Jackson and extensively renovated in the past decade. Its exterior resembles a Tudor…

3. Grand Opera House

0.21 MILES

One of Belfast's great Victorian landmarks is the Grand Opera House. Opened in 1895 and completely refurbished in the 1970s, it sustained severe IRA-bomb…

4. Crown Liquor Saloon

0.22 MILES

There are not many historical monuments that you can enjoy while savouring a pint of Guinness, but the National Trust's Crown Liquor Saloon is one of them…

5. Entries

0.23 MILES

These narrow alleyways running between High St and Ann St were once bustling commercial and residential thoroughfares; Pottinger's Entry, for example, had…

6. Jaffe Memorial Fountain

0.27 MILES

At the Victoria St entrance to the Victoria Square shopping mall is the yellow and white Jaffe Memorial Fountain. The gilded, cast iron structure and…

7. Royal Courts of Justice

0.32 MILES

The 1933 neoclassical Royal Courts of Justice were bombed by the IRA in 1990 but are now freed of the massive security screens that once concealed them.

8. St George's Market

0.33 MILES

Ireland's oldest continually operating market was built in 1896. This Victorian beauty hosts a Friday variety market (flowers, produce, meat, fish,…