Northern Ireland is a beautiful place, laden with history, as well as being able to boast some incredible scenery. If you’re planning a tour, here are some of our favourite NI buildings to look out for.
For a unique insight into the history of Northern Ireland, make sure to stop by and tour the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast. The prison was built in 1845 and officially closed its doors in 1996. Today it is used as a conference centre and for tours, but it was once a place where women and children were incarcerated, as well as male prisoners.
It’s not often that a pub makes the list of must-see buildings, but the Crown Bar in Belfast is not like any ordinary bar. Instead, it retains the look of a palace, and has tables hidden behind stained glass windows. For a true royal experience, make sure to have a pint inside in this majestic bar. It’s worth the trip just to enjoy a leisurely pint of stout here.
For a taste of the historic neoclassical architecture of Belfast, make sure to stop by City Hall. The building itself is both stunning and functional, as the city government still operates out of this wonderful edifice. Throughout the year events are organised on the front lawn of the hall including the live video screenings and the continental market every Christmas.
Another impressive government seat placed inside an ancient historical building is the Stormont Estate and Parliament. Make sure to leave a little extra time in your visit to tour the impressive grounds. Sitting on top of a hill in the Stormont estate in east Belfast the mile long drive is very popular with locals and tourists alike for a pleasurable and challenging walk.
While in Belfast make sure to also pop by the Grand Opera House, to see the Victorian design of the astounding and renowned theatre. Frank Matcham built the main auditorium, and in 2006 the building was extended to include the Baby Grand.
There are nine galleries that trace the history of the ill-fated Titanic inside Titanic Belfast, but even if you don’t plan to go in you need to stop by and experience this building. Until you see the giant ship mast that dons the actual design of the building front, you won’t believe it.
Of course, while in Northern Ireland you need to make sure to leave space in your schedule to see the impressive collection of churches. These buildings are simply breathtaking and spread out across the country. In particular, St. Malachy’s Church in Belfast deserves a trip for its unusual design, and Armagh’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral is well worth viewing as a representation of two Gothic architectural eras.
Finally, you cannot tour Northern Ireland without stopping by at least one or two castles. A must-see is Dunluce Castle which was built up on the Antrim cliffs. About half was washed away, but what was left is clearly an architectural feat defied by those who lived in the medieval ages. The ruin of Dunseverick Castle is not far away, and also worth a visit for its beautiful coastal setting and immense age – perhaps 1500 years!