Belfast – Hill Street Brasserie, 38 Hill Street
Image by infomatique
Cathedral Quarter takes its name from St. Anne’s Cathedral, the ecclesiastical heart of the city. Cathedral Quarter is packed full of fascinating architecture, ranging from distinguished banks and public buildings, to cosy pubs and trendy warehouse restaurants. Some of these buildings, such as the Custom House, occupy prominent public locations. But other equally intriguing buildings are tucked away down the narrow cobbled streets and alleyways that give the area its intimate charm.
In recent years, Cathedral Quarter has taken on a pivotal role as the focus for Belfast’s burgeoning arts and crafts scene. The Quarter is home to many visual and performing artists, as well as community groups. With the University of Ulster (specialising in Arts) close by there are plenty of artistic students adding to the atmosphere of the Quarter.
The Cathedral Quarter was designated a Conservation Area in 1990 as a way of preserving its unique character as the historic heart of Belfast. A series of bronze interpretative panels were erected in the Quarter by Belfast City Council, in partnership with the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. The Society’s concept was to produce a symbol in relief, relating to the history of the building or street in which the panel is located.
Take a wander a few streets back from the main shopping thoroughfare of Royal Avenue and you’ll find yourself in the birthplace of the city. James I gave the settlement of Belfast to Sir Arthur Chichester and it became a town by the grant of a Royal Charter in 1613. Chichester built himself a grand fortified manor in the area of what is now known as Cornmarket. This was completely destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1708. Old Belfast had narrow property plots, with long gardens to the rear. Some of the access lanes became ‘entries’ and in some places you can still see this pattern of development.