Crown Liquor Saloon – Belfast, Northern Ireland - Atlas Obscura

Crown Liquor Saloon

This Victorian-era public house has set the standard for pub-style elegance for over a hundred years. 


Originally a Victorian “gin palace” where the fancy and austere would go for a tipple, the Crown Liquor Saloon (or simply, “The Crown”) has been restored and preserved in its ornate and elegant state for over a century.

Originally established in 1826 as a stop-in along the new railway from Belfast to Lisburn, the bar was first known as the Railway Tavern. However after changing hands a few times, the tavern was finally given an overhaul in 1885 bringing the decor up to an ornate design standard. Ten private booths, known as “snugs,” were installed complete with their own doors and ringed with small, stained glass flourishes. Tile mosaics were set into the floors and the bar was redone with heated foot rests. Carved wood flourishes, a cacophony of colorful features, and eye-grabbing details were worked into almost every surface. The exterior was even decorated with polychromatic tiles enticing passersby with a preview of the opulence within. The locals like to point out the image of a crown on the floor at the entrance, so that anyone entering would step on it upon arrival and departure.

Today The Crown has lost none of its impressive splendor thanks to recent decades of restoration and official recognition as a historical place of interest. The original tile work and stained glass still shines as though it was installed yesterday and the whole bar is accented by the gas lights fixtures that hang from the ceiling. Unfortunately, they are no longer illuminated with gas, as they recently fell victim to health and safety regulations. This may be one of the few places in the world where Victorian opulence never lost its hold or its shine.


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