2 Royal Avenue – Belfast, Northern Ireland - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

2 Royal Avenue

A palatial former bank building now houses what may be the poshest art venue (and former Tesco) in Belfast. 


With its impressive archways and bright blue-green ceiling, this building doesn’t look like the kind of place you’d typically visit when shopping for deodorant or frozen peas.

William J. Barre designed the building at 2 Royal Ave in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as a branch of the Provincial Bank of Ireland in the second half of the 19th century. He included elaborate details and frescos that were scrapped after he overspent the budget and died, leaving architecture firm Turner and Williamson to complete the job.

The result is a gorgeous building that’s missing some of its intended glamour, such as an exquisite seven-bay facade that lacks the elaborate sculpture that was intended for the pediment. But these missing details don’t make the building any less impressive. 

In the 1990s, the building was converted into a Tesco Metro store. Architects from the firm WDR & RT Taggart restored its elaborate facade, transforming the space into an unbelievably palatial grocery store. Shelves of food fill the colorful, ornate space. Stand in line at the cashier station, and you’ll find yourself beneath a beautiful, airy dome supported by corbelled columns that lead up to a Gothic gallery.

Update April 2019: The building is visible, but currently inaccessible due to construction and repair efforts after a nearby fire in August of 2018. Tesco has not yet announced when the store will be re-opening.

Update July 2019:  Tesco is now open for business.

Update September 2021: Tesco has now closed down their operations here and put the building on sale for £4.25 million.

Update as of April 2022: The site has reopened as the Royal Avenue cultural venue and contains a café. There is no longer a Tesco Metro.

Know Before You Go

Belfast is a very walkable city, but plan to walk for around 15 minutes if staying around Queen's.

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