If you are looking for a relaxing escape from the vibrant and fast-paced urban atmosphere of Belfast, look no further than a stroll around Queen’s University. Located within walking distance of Belfast city centre, the officially named Queen’s University of Belfast is a perfect way to slow down after touring Northern Ireland. This public research university delights with its stunning architecture, pristine grounds, and rich history.
Founded by Queen Victoria herself in 1845, the university officially opened in 1889 but it has roots as deep as 1810 when it was known as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. It was designed as a nondenominational alternative to Dublin’s Trinity College that was controlled by the Anglican Church. In 1908, the Irish Universities Act dissolved the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and two schools were created from one: Queen’s University and the National University of Ireland. Today, Queen’s University is in the top 1% of global universities and among the top ten oldest in the United Kingdom. What began with a staff of 23 professors and 343 students now boasts an impressive student body of over 23,000 scholars and the distinction of being one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland with a total workforce of over 3,700.
What to See
Whether you came for a relaxing walk through the grounds or an organised tour of the campus, Queen’s University, the centre point of the Queen’s Quarter area of Belfast, will impress you. The main building and the well preserved and architecturally striking Lanyan Building were both designed and built by Charles Lanyan. Well-kept grounds surround this historic institution and provide a retreat of sorts from busy city life.
Call ahead and schedule an official guided campus tour. Your guide will lead you through the Great Hall, the Canada Room, the Council Chamber, and the popular quadrangle. You can also find tourist information on the university and the surrounding Belfast area at the university’s on-campus welcome centre. Want more? Stop by the university’s Naughton Gallery, one of Belfast’s most exciting art museums.
After your tour, a visit to the nearby Belfast Botanic Gardens is in order. This 28-acre space is a much beloved public park popular with everyone visiting the university. The Gardens, which opened in 1828, has many features but its greenhouses and rose garden prove to be unanimous favourites.
Queen’s University boasts 300+ degree programs in 20 schools of academics across 250 campus buildings so it’s no wonder that the list of notable graduates goes on and on. Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese, Nobel Prize winners Seamus Heaney and Lord Trimble, former prime minister of Northern Ireland Lord Faulkner of Downpatrick, and smash Hollywood actor Liam Neeson are just five of the numerous distinguished graduates.
The well-maintained campus of Queen’s University offers visitors the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of Belfast and relax among some of the finest brains in the country. Surrounded by restaurants and shops, offering a vibrant art gallery and proximity to the Botanic Gardens, and welcoming you on guided tours, Queen’s University will be a favourite stop on your tour of Northern Ireland.