Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
Well known by drinkers and tourists to the city, the Crown is famed for its opulent marble, brilliant Italian tilework, fine glass engraving, embossed ceiling, and cosy booths bedecked with gryphons and lions. Panels in the restaurant on the first floor were meant for Brittanic, Titanic?s sister ship. The building was completed around 1840.
Leaving the Europa Bus Station, you can see this pub across the road.
I didn't get the chance to visit it (it was 07.15 ish!), but admired its tiled front from the outside.
This drinking emporium dates back to 1826.
Originally it was called the Railway Tavern, as it had been constructed around the time of the Belfast to Lisburn railway line. At this time it was owned by Felix O’Hanlon, who then sold it to Michael Flanagen. Michaels son, Patrick Flanagan is credited with putting this pub on the map. He was well travelled (and a student of Architecture), and after his travels, realised the potential of this family bar.
Patrick had been very impressed with Italy during his travels-which on his return coincided with an explosion of construction of Catholic churches in Ireland around 1885. Patrick realised that many Italian craftsmen were in his country now, building and decorating these churches. He managed to persuade some of these workers to earn more money, by working on this pub.
So the rich tile work, stained glass and wood carvings seen today, are due to these Italian Craftsmen, and is the reason why the pub is said to resemble a church!
The Crown boasts 10 snug bars, which some say resemble church family pews. The tradition of the snug, was to ensure privacy! Please check the website for more info...
The Crown is now owned by the National Trust (since 1978, following much persuasion by one Sir John Betjeman-The Poet Laureate of the time!) and it is managed by Six Continents Retail Limited.
In 1981, a restoration project took place, to restore the saloon to its Victorian gin palace status!. This cost around £400,000.
I'm hoping that at my next visit to Belfast, I'll get to enjoy a pint of the black stuff (Guinness) and a meal here - it's certainly whetted my appetite!
This is a pretty wonderful place.
It's now owned by the National Trust, hardly surprising given the wonderful tiling, carving, colours, whirls and swirls of its interior and the equally over-the-top decoration of its exterior.
You'll find it almost opposite the Europa hotel on Great Victoria Street.
The bar dates back to 1826 and is a most wonderful place, beautifully restored since its purchase by the National Trust in 1978. The red granite counter snakes around, there are wooden 'compartments' (snugs) for people to sit in, the staff wear white aprons........an entirely unmissable place.
And I even found a 'Green Man' in one of the exterior tile panels! :-)
Beginning life as "The Railway Tavern" when the Great Northern Railway Station was just across Great Victoria Street, the Crown Bar or Crown Liquor Saloon was built in 1826, with the interior credited to some very talented Italian craftsmen who created a masterpiece of woodwork, stained glass and tile. The Crown Bar is considered an example of a Victorian gin palace of the era. The National Trust bought the Crown Bar in 1978 (now managed by Nicholson's), and spent a considerable sum restoring and refurbishing it since then. This was the subject of a Northern Ireland BBC documentary called "The Crown Jewel" although attempts to view (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00f4zq0) were unsuccessful.
When we visited the Crown Bar one late afternoon, its cozy snugs as well as the seats at the bar were already full as I imagine it is most days. However, as this was our only opportunity to see it, I was really disappointed. The architecture of the Crown Bar, and for that matter other bars I saw while in Dublin and Belfast, is completely unique. From the National Trust site: "The red granite topped bar is of an altar style, with a heated footrest underneath and is lit by gas lamps on the highly decorative carved ceilings. Built to accommodate the pub's more reserved customers during the austere Victorian period, the snugs feature the original gun metal plates for striking matches and an antique bell system for alerting staff. Extra privacy was then afforded by the pub's etched and stained glass windows" which feature some uncommon subjects: fairies, pineapples, fleurs-de-lis and clowns."
The Crown offers some quality pub food such as steak and Nicholson's pale ale pie£11.95, grilled chicken breast with mature Cheddar, smoked back bacon, skin on chips and crunchy slaw £9.65, sausages & champ £9.95, gin-cured smoked salmon £5.95, and the more common nachos, burgers, fish & chips, etc. Ask about the Crown Bar pub lunch & drink for £9, and other dining options.
The Crown Bar offers a wide variety of spirits including all kinds of ales with interesting names: Summer Lightning, Norfolk Champion, Seafarers, and just too many others to name -- a beer lover's cornucopia!
Now even though the Crown Bar was a destination for many of the people in our group, our tour guide suggested Robinson's Bar which he said was his favorite, and which was only a couple of doors down from the Crown Bar/Liquor Saloon.