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Top Rated Attractions in Belfast

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Botanic Gardens

A beautiful remnant of the city's Victorian past, the Botanic Gardens was established in 1828 as a private garden by the Belfast Botanical and Horticultural Society. After the Belfast Corporation purchased it in 1895, it has been one of the city's most loved public green space and meeting place for tourists and locals alike. Spread across 11.33 hectares (28 acres), the park is a vibrant medley of roses, rare oaks, exotic trees and blooms. The arched cast-iron glasshouse Palm House and the sunken Tropical Ravine are some of its prominent features. The gardens regularly play host to concerts, festivals and other live performances, making it an idyllic cultural venue as well. However, the one thing while visiting this place is that opening times vary.

St Anne's Cathedral

You'll spot the Neo-Romanesque facade of this cathedral long before you step up to the door. Inside you'll find lots of splendid marble and some impressively enormous mosaics. Lord Carson, leader of the campaign against Home Rule, is buried here. St Anne's Book of Common Prayer, written on cigarette papers in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, serves as a poignant reminder of human suffering. Some marvelous classical concerts are held here, and evensong on a Sunday afternoon is a beautiful musical experience, if nothing else. In recent years, the cathedral has been at the forefront of cross-community initiatives in Northern Ireland. People from any denomination, or none, are welcome to attend their weekly 'heal our land' services and to take communion here. It is open through the day for visitors.

Belfast City Walking Tours

In June 1993, the BBC's Walter Love launched the Blackstaff Way and since then it has proved very popular with visitors from around the world. Associated with the Belfast City Walking Tours, these walks take in many interesting streets including Great Victoria Street. You see the oldest bridge in Belfast. You even find out about the Mystery Stone from the Belfast Castle of 1708. There is so much to discover along the Blackstaff Way that you will find it to be the best introduction to the heart of Belfast. Tours begin at 11am every Saturday morning. Other tours like The Farset Way, The Victorian Way and Bible Steps of Belfast can be booked by email.

Linen Hall Library

This library is situated opposite the City Hall. It has been awarded a considerable sum by the Lottery Heritage Foundation to expand the library collection and make a cultural center. Even though it is a private library, visitors too are welcome to read books or newspapers or to sit on one of the antique sofas that sprawl on every floor. There is an extensive genealogy section, the first port of call for anyone attempting to trace ancestors from Belfast. They also provide access to internet. There is a popular cafe too, so do enjoy books with a cup of coffee.

Queen's University

No trip to Belfast would be complete without a visit to Queen's. The building was designed by Charles Lanyon and completed in 1849. All three buildings share architectural similarities. Call the Queen's Visitor Centre to learn more about the institution and its history. You can buy an assortment of Queen's memorabilia here. As with many universities, the surrounding area is vibrant, with an emphasis as much on having a good time as serious, diligent, rigorous academic study.

Stormont Castle

This neo-classical palatial structure built between 1928 and 1932 was designed to house the Parliament for Northern Ireland after the partition of Ireland into North and South in 1922. Set in its own extensive grounds, the main building stands at the end of a majestic avenue, one mile long. This is a building weighted with the full gravitas of government, and with the heavy history of the region and peoples to whom it is responsible. Dissolution of Stormont as the seat of Northern Ireland's Parliament has always marked periods of political unrest. The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently up and running, however, and people here and all over the world are anxious that it continues to be so.

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