Birthplace of Belfast

The Cathedral Quarter is the heart of the old city of Belfast. Its streets and buildings tell you a story of the origins of the city and give us glimpses into the early stages of its development.

Belfast came to prominence as a market town and trading port for the export of cattle, oats, hides, timber, yarn and other agricultural products, surpassing Carrickfergus in importance by the second half of the 17th century.

The town prospered and grew throughout the 18th and 19th centuries from booming cotton, linen and shipbuilding industries, becoming the hub of Irish linen trade and manufacture.

In the early days Front Street, now High Street, ran along either side of the Farset giving access to the quays. Skipper Street was where the captains of the vessels live and Bridge Street led to the principle bridge over the river Farset, with other bridges at Skipper Street and Church Lane. Goose Lane, along which fowl were driven to the fields beyond the Corporation boundary, later became North Street.

Key and Listed Buildings

Original street patterns and historic buildings invite us to experience the intimate scale of 18th & 19th century Belfast. The Cathedral Quarter incorporates over 25 historically significant listed buildings lining the streets recalling important periods in Belfast’s development as a centre for trade and commerce.


We would like to thank Ulster Architectural Heritage Society for their original research on this topic.

To learn more about the Area and History of the CQ

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