Published: July 21st 2021
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Botanic Gardens was our first stop on a beautiful summer’s day in Belfast.

Close to the park was The Ulster Museum, designed in Classical Revival style and built in 1924-1929. The Brutalist extension was designed by Francis Pym and built in 1966-1972.

The Botanic Gardens were established in 1828 by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society, in response to public interest in horticulture and botany.

Originally known as the Belfast Botanic Garden, the site contained exotic tree species and impressive plant collections from the southern hemisphere, many of which can still be seen in the park.

The Palm House is one of the earliest examples of a glasshouse made from curved iron and glass. It shows how advances in glasshouse technology allowed horticulturists to grow exotic plant species during the Victorian period.

Due to current Covid restrictions we were unable to go inside, the outside was still stunning.

The building was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, who also helped design parts of nearby Queen’s University. The foundation stone was laid in 1839 and the two wings were completed in 1840 by leading ironmaster, Richard Turner. The dome was added in 1852.

Queens University

Founded in 1845 by Queen Victoria as Queen's College Belfast.

The University was made up of three Queen's Colleges - in Cork, Galway and Belfast. Although it was the first University in the north of Ireland, Queen's drew on a tradition of learning which goes back to 1810 and the foundation of the Belfast Academical Institution.

The magnificent main building was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon.

Victoria and Albert made their first and only visit to Belfast in August 1849, when the College was nearly completed, and it opened at last that December.

The first intake to Queen's was just 90 students.

In 1909 there were around 600 students, mostly drawn from the historic nine counties of Ulster.

Today there are approximately 23,000 from the UK and Ireland and more than 80 other countries.

We were able to view briefly inside and saw Pio Fedi’s statue of Galileo.

Another sculpture located outside the New Library entitled ‘Eco' was rather interesting.

In the grounds we saw a public exhibition by renowned South African photographer Zanele Muholi entitled ‘Somnyama

From the early 2000s Muholi has documented and celebrated the lives of South Africa’s Black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities. In their series, Somnyama Ngonyama (meaning ‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’), they turn the camera on themself.

The last stop was Assembly's College - today's Union Theological College - this was the first home of the Northern Ireland parliament 100 years ago.

Our virtual guide Rory had so much to tell about all of the iconic places we visited virtually today.

Additional photos below
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