Towards the Golden Mile’s southern extremity lies the university quarter. You’re likely to spend much of your time in the area, since it boasts plenty of eating places, pubs and a range of accommodation. Just south of Shaftesbury Square stand three churches – Moravian, Crescent and Methodist – whose distinctive steeples frame the entrance to the university quarter. From here, leading up to the university buildings, the roads are lined with early Victorian terraces that represent the final flowering of Georgian architecture in Belfast. The Upper Crescent is a magnificent curved Neoclassical terrace, built in about 1845 but sadly neglected since; it is now used mainly for office space. The Lower Crescent, perversely, is straight.
Queen’s University is the architectural centrepiece of the area, flanked by the most satisfying example of a Georgian terrace in Belfast, University Square, where the red brickwork mostly remains intact, with the exception of a few bay windows added in the Victorian era. The university building itself was constructed in 1849 as a mock-Tudor remodelling of Magdalen College, Oxford, to a design by Lanyon, and houses a visitor centre, which provides information about the university, hosts a series of art exhibitions, and runs guided tours. Across the road from here is the Students’ Union, a white 1960s design. The Italianate Union Theological College, nearby on College Park, also by Lanyon, was temporarily the site of the Northern Ireland Parliament until 1932 when Stormont was built. A little further south down University Road, the university bookshop is especially good for Irish history and politics and has particularly impressive fiction, drama and poetry sections.