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The City Hall dominates the city's skyline from every angle. The building's remarkable interior contains a marble grand staircase crowned by a domed ceiling of intricate plasterwork. The Grand Staircase is lit by seven stained glass windows and the Grand Hall is also adorned with several stained-glass portraits of British sovereigns, rescued from bombing during the Second World War. Guided tours of the building and grounds are available all year round; each tour lasts approximately one hour.
This 19th-century sandstone, Gothic beauty was constructed on reclaimed, swampy land causing it to lean four feet. A memorial to Prince Albert, it was designed by noted Irish architect, W J Barre. Overlooking the River Lagan, Albert Memorial Clock Tower rises 113 feet (34.44 meters) in Queen's Square. Heavily decorated, it features heraldic lions, flying buttresses, floral elements, a clock and bell. A sculpture of the late Prince in the Most Noble Order of the Garter robes by SF Lynn adorns its western side. Due to its weak foundation, the tower started to lean even more, causing it to become unstable and almost topple over. After an extensive renovation to conserve and restore it in 2002, this historic landmark stands proudly albeit with a slight yet stable lean.
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.
Set on the wooded slopes of the dramatic Cave Hill is the 19th-century edifice of Belfast Castle. The castle was built in 1870 and was previously home to the Earl of Shaftesbury. Within the castle are two rather expensive restaurants and also a small heritage center offering an insight into the area's history. The castle and its spectacular grounds afford beautiful views of the whole city and across Belfast Lough. If visitors feel like venturing beyond the grounds, there are walks that lead up to the foot of Napoleon's Nose and to the caves that gave the Cave Hill its name.
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.