History of Belfast City Hall For many centuries, Belfast was a small settlement. Everything changed in 1613, when a Royal charter gave Belfast town status. It expanded rapidly, becoming an important port and manufacturing cent By the end of the 19th century, Belfast had outgrown its status as a town and was a major industrial powerhouse, known for its shipbuilding, rope making, engineering, tobacco and textile industries.
In 1888, Queen Victoria gave Belfast the title of city and it was generally agreed that a new city hall was needed to reflect this change in status.
Building work Negotiations to acquire the one and a half acre White Linen Hall site, located in Donegall Square, began in 1896 and a price of £30,000 was agreed. Built by local firm H+J Martin, following a design from Alfred Brumwell Thomas, who won a public competition with his classical Renaissance design. Funding for the new building was raised from the profits of Belfast Gasworks
The first stone was laid in 1898 and building work was completed eight years later. In total, Belfast City Hall cost less than £500,000 to build. Belfast City Hall opened its doors on 1 August 1906 during a great time of prosperity for the city.
Today, the magnificent building is a lasting memorial to Belfast’s success and a great source of civic pride.
Free public tours of Belfast City Hall Led by an experienced guide, they last around one hour and uncover the history of Belfast City Hall, while exploring some of its finest features.
Times Public tours are available at the following times:
- Monday to Friday – 11am, 2pm and 3pm
- Saturday – 2pm and 3pm.
They are available on a first-come, first-served basis (no booking needed) and leave from the reception area inside Belfast City Hall. There are no tours on Sundays, bank holidays or public holidays.
Access From Monday – Friday, visitors can access City Hall via the front entrance on Donegall Square North, the side entrance on Donegall Square East and the back gate at Donegall Square South.
If you are taking part in one of our Saturday tours, please use the back gate entrance only.