Ireland // Belfast //

Cathedral quarter

The area north of Waring Street has seen much redevelopment in recent years, with plenty of new restaurants and bars opening up – some of which offer a wide range of entertainment, such as the excellent John Hewitt – leading to its acquisition of the term Cathedral quarter to suggest a Parisian ambience, though one as far removed from the Left Bank as it’s possible to imagine.

A couple of hundred yards up Donegall Street you’ll find the most monolithic of all the city’s grand buildings, the Protestant St Anne’s Cathedral, a neo-Romanesque basilica started in 1899, but not fully completed until 1981. Entrance is via the huge west door, immediately to the right of which is the baptistery, with an intricately designed representation of the Creation on its ceiling consisting of 150,000 tiny pieces of glass. Most significant, however, is the cathedral’s only tomb, marked by a simple slab on the floor of the south aisle, which contains the body of Lord Edward Henry Carson (1854–1935). The symbol of Partition, he’s seen either as the province’s saviour or as the villain who sabotaged Ireland’s independence as a 32-county state.

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