City Hall Belfast – Exhibitions, History and Facts


Updated On: April 15, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

City Hall Belfast is an impressive building in the heart of Belfast’s city centre. It opened its doors in 1906 after Belfast was granted City status in 1888 by Queen Victoria.

There is a memorial in its garden to the 1,000 people who died in the World War 2 bomb. A Titanic memorial garden is also on show for people to check out.

A few statues surround the City Hall grounds, including one of Queen Victoria by Sir Thomas Brock. Other statues include Lord Dufferin, Edward James (Founder of Harland and Wolff), Sir Daniel Dixon (first mayor of Belfast), and James Horner Haslett, another Mayor of Belfast.

City Hall in Belfast – Things to Do in Belfast – NI

History of Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall- Statue
Belfast City Hall- Statue
Belfast City Hall- Statue
Belfast City Hall- Statue

The history of City Hall Belfast is intertwined with the growth and development of the city itself. Designed by renowned architect Alfred Brumwell Thomas, construction of City Hall began in 1898 and was completed in 1906, marking a significant milestone in Belfast’s architectural landscape. The building’s imposing Baroque Revival style, characterized by its ornate façade, domed roof, and copper-clad towers, reflects the grandeur and confidence of Belfast during the Edwardian era.

City Hall has witnessed pivotal moments throughout its history in Belfast‘s social, political, and cultural history. From hosting critical civic events and ceremonies to serving as a backdrop for public protests and demonstrations, City Hall has been at the forefront of Belfast’s civic life. Notably, the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912, a pivotal event in the history of Northern Ireland, took place within its hallowed halls.

During the tumultuous years of the Troubles, City Hall stood as a symbol of resilience and unity in the face of adversity. Despite the challenges of sectarian conflict, the building remained a focal point for civic pride and community solidarity. In 1998, City Hall witnessed another historic moment with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which paved the way for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Architecture and Design

City Hall Belfast is a masterpiece of architectural ingenuity, blending classical elegance with intricate detailing. The exterior facade features Portland stone, adorned with Corinthian columns, statues, and ornate carvings, creating a sense of grandeur and opulence.

The focal point of City Hall is its central dome, towering over the surrounding landscape. Rising to a height of 173 feet, the dome is crowned with a copper-coated lantern and topped by a majestic figure representing Thane, an ancient Celtic warrior.

The building’s interior is equally impressive, boasting a magnificent marble staircase, vaulted ceilings, and lavish decorative flourishes. The Great Hall, with its polished marble floors and stained glass windows, is a striking backdrop for ceremonial events and public gatherings.


City Hall Belfast hosts many exhibitions celebrating art, culture, history, and innovation. These exhibitions provide visitors with enriching experiences, showcasing local talents and international works. Among the notable exhibitions held at City Hall Belfast are:

  1. Belfast Room: The Belfast Room exhibition offers a journey through the city’s history, highlighting its evolution from a modest settlement to a bustling urban centre. Visitors can explore archival photographs, documents, and artefacts that depict Belfast’s industrial heritage, political developments, and social transformation over the centuries.
  2. Titanic Memorial Garden: As a poignant tribute to the RMS Titanic, built in Belfast, City Hall houses the Titanic Memorial Garden. This exhibition features sculptures, plaques, and informational displays that honour the lives lost in the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The garden serves as a solemn reminder of Belfast’s maritime heritage and connection to one of history’s most iconic ships.
  3. Artistic Exhibitions: City Hall Belfast frequently hosts art exhibitions that showcase the works of local and international artists. From traditional paintings and sculptures to contemporary installations and multimedia presentations, these exhibitions provide a platform for creative expression and cultural exchange. Visitors can immerse themselves in diverse artistic styles and perspectives, fostering appreciation for the arts within the community.


  1. Architectural Marvel: City Hall Belfast is renowned for its architectural splendour, featuring Portland stone façades, Italian marble interiors, and a stunning central dome adorned with a copper statue of Thane, the mythical Celtic warrior. The building’s opulent design reflects the prosperity and ambition of Belfast during the early 20th century.
  2. Clock Tower: At the heart of City Hall stands its iconic clock tower, rising to a height of 53 meters (173 feet). The tower houses Ireland’s most significant public clock, with its four dials measuring over seven meters (23 feet) in diameter. Visitors can ascend the tower for panoramic views of Belfast cityscape, offering a unique perspective on its landmarks and surroundings.
  3. Rose Garden: Surrounding City Hall is a picturesque rose garden featuring over 3,000 roses of various colours and varieties. The garden provides a tranquil oasis amid the bustling city, inviting visitors to relax and enjoy its beauty throughout the year.
  4. Visitor Experience: City Hall offers guided tours for visitors eager to explore its history, architecture, and exhibitions. Knowledgeable guides lead visitors through the building’s majestic halls, sharing insights into its construction, significance, and notable events. City Hall’s Visitor Exhibition Center also provides interactive displays and multimedia presentations that offer a deeper understanding of Belfast’s past and present.

The gardens surrounding City Hall are a popular spot for students, office workers, tourists and pretty much everyone on a sunny day. It’s a perfect place to sit, relax, and have some lunch, weather-dependent.

2009 the building reopened following its 11 million refurbishments after two years of work. To help celebrate the re-opening of City Hall, they had a ribbon-cutting ceremony that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton performed. The new refurbishment included creating a new coffee shop, and an exhibition area for locals and tourists to enjoy that showcases the history of the City.

Visiting City Hall Belfast

Belfast City Hall Building
Belfast City Hall building

City Hall Belfast is open to the public year-round, offering guided tours and self-guided visits for individuals and groups. Visitors can explore the building’s magnificent architecture, learn about its history through informative displays and exhibits, and enjoy the beautiful surrounding gardens and sculptures.

Guided tours provide in-depth insights into the building’s architecture, history, and significance, with knowledgeable guides leading visitors through the various rooms and attractions. Self-guided tours allow visitors to explore independently, with informative signage providing context and background information.

Vibrant Attractions Near City Hall

In addition to the majestic City Hall, Belfast boasts many attractions and landmarks nearby, offering visitors a diverse range of experiences. Here are some notable attractions near City Hall Belfast:

  1. St. Anne’s Cathedral (Belfast Cathedral): Located just a short walk from City Hall, St. Anne’s Cathedral is one of Belfast’s most iconic landmarks. This stunning example of Neo-Romanesque architecture features intricately carved stonework, beautiful stained glass windows, and a striking spire that dominates the city skyline. Visitors can explore the cathedral’s interior, attend services, or climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of Belfast.
  2. Victoria Square Shopping Centre: Situated adjacent to City Hall, Victoria Square is Belfast’s premier shopping destination. This modern shopping complex features various retail outlets, restaurants, and entertainment options, including a cinema and rooftop terrace with panoramic city views. Visitors can shop for designer brands, enjoy a meal, or simply soak up the vibrant atmosphere.
  3. Ulster Hall: Just a stone’s throw from City Hall, Ulster Hall is a historic concert venue and cultural hub in the heart of Belfast. Dating back to 1862, this grand Victorian building has hosted some of the world’s most renowned performers, including Led Zeppelin and Luciano Pavarotti. Visitors can attend concerts, comedy shows, and other live events throughout the year.
  4. Belfast City Centre Parks: Surrounding City Hall are several picturesque parks and green spaces where visitors can relax and unwind. The tranquil Botanic Gardens, located a short distance from City Hall, feature beautiful floral displays, exotic plant species, and the iconic Palm House conservatory. Meanwhile, Custom House Square offers a vibrant outdoor venue for concerts, festivals, and cultural events.
  5. Titanic Belfast: A short drive or bus ride from City Hall, Titanic Belfast is a world-class visitor attraction dedicated to the RMS Titanic and Belfast’s maritime heritage. Housed in a striking building reminiscent of the ship’s prow, the museum features interactive exhibits, immersive displays, and artefacts recovered from the wreck. Through state-of-the-art multimedia presentations, visitors can learn about the Titanic’s construction, voyage, and tragic sinking.
  6. Crumlin Road Gaol: Located just north of City Hall, Crumlin Road Gaol is a fascinating historical site that offers guided tours exploring Belfast’s penal history. Dating back to the Victorian era, this imposing former prison housed some of Northern Ireland’s most notorious criminals and political prisoners. Visitors can explore the underground tunnels, visit the condemned man’s cell, and learn about the gaol’s turbulent past.
  7. Cathedral Quarter: Situated in the historic heart of Belfast, it is a vibrant cultural district known for its lively pubs, eclectic eateries, and thriving arts scene. Visitors can stroll cobbled streets with art galleries, theatres, and music venues, soaking up the area’s unique atmosphere. The Cathedral Quarter hosts regular events, including the annual Belfast Culture Night celebration.

From historic landmarks and cultural attractions to shopping and dining destinations, the area surrounding City Hall Belfast offers something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring Belfast’s rich history, indulging in retail therapy, or simply soaking up the local culture, there’s no shortage of things to see and do near this iconic civic landmark.

City Hall Belfast Visitor Exhibition 4K:


City Hall Belfast stands as a proud symbol of Belfast’s rich heritage and enduring resilience. From its majestic architecture to its fascinating exhibitions and attractions, City Hall offers visitors a captivating glimpse into the history and culture of this vibrant city. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply curious to explore Belfast’s iconic landmarks, visiting City Hall will surely be a memorable experience.

Have you visited Belfast City Hall? What are your thoughts on the impressive building and grounds? Let us know in the comments below.

More Belfast reads by ConnollyCove: Queen’s University Belfast | Titanic Museum Belfast | Game of Thrones Tapestry | Belfast Peace Walls | Streamvale Open Farm

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