12 of Liverpool’s Most Beautiful Historic Buildings

The Port of Liverpool Building
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Liverpool’s Most Beautiful Historic Buildings

Since being named European Capital of Culture in 2008 Liverpool has cemented its status on the worlds stage as a city well worth visiting.

With its new world class reputation Liverpool has become one of the must see cities in the UK for global travellers.

Here are 12 wonderful sites not to be missed on a visit to this marvellous city

Liverpool Cathedral

A striking building built in gothic style, that can be seen from as far away as North Wales. Liverpool Cathedral sits proudly upon St James’ mount and is the largest Cathedral in the UK and 5th largest in the world. The building took 74 years to complete entirely and survived two world wars.

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The interior is just as outstanding if not more so than the exterior. Home to the UK’s largest organ and the heaviest bells in the world, are just two of the many amazing sights to behold inside.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, St. James's Mount
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, St. James’s Mount – photo by wikimedia.org

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Cathedral is the focal tower, sitting 154m high above the river Mersey, open to the public to climb and more recently to abseil down too.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Visitors to Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral can immediately understand why people affectionately nick named the building “Paddy’s Wigwam”. The unusual conical structure is unconventional to say the least and serves a purpose other than to stand out from the crowd.

Designers created the round building to allow a congregation of 2000 visibility of the altar at mass. With 13 chapels branching of the central space, each holding individual carved panels and stained glass windows designed by artists in tribute to one saint or another.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral By Chowells – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=553728

The lantern tower structure is made up of one-inch-thick pieces of red, yellow and blue stained glass. At night this amazing lantern tower glows in wondrous colour from light within. During the day being inside is like standing inside a kaleidoscope, as daylight bounces off the rounded walls.

A one of a kind wonder to see whilst in Liverpool.

The Royal Court Theatre

The Royal Court Theatre
The Royal Court Theatre photo by www.royalcourtliverpool.co.uk/about/

This grade II listed building was once home to circus performances, plays and operas a popular place to see the performing arts in the 1800’s.

After being burnt down in a fire in 1933, the Royal Court theatre was rebuilt and completed in 1938 in the popular style of the time Art Deco. Architecturally simple, with clean lines and minimal decoration. The interior is set out in classic cabaret style, with dark polished wooden décor and an intricately decorated ceiling.

It is the stars that have graced the stage in this theatre that truly make it a sight to behold. The likes of Dame Judy Dench, David Bowie, R.E.M and Lawrence Olivier all making their mark here.

The Empire Theatre

Built in 1925 on what has always been a theatre site, the Empire Theatre is home to the largest two tier auditorium in Britain. An exterior Neoclassical style architecture is what makes this building a wonder to admire.

Liverpool Empire Theatre
Liverpool Empire Theatre By El Pollock, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30121749

Inside the grand auditorium can seat over 2,000 people who are welcomed by the Louis the XVII style interior.

Rumoured to be haunted by no less than two ghosts, a young Victorian girl and a painter named Len, makes the Empire Theatre worth a visit.

Albert Dock

A sight that has become synonymous with Liverpool is Albert Dock. Built in 1846 as the first fire proof enclosed dock in the world, and the first to use hydraulic warehouse hoists. Albert Docks life as a working dock was sadly short-lived and closed in 1972.

Albert Dock Liverpool Waterfront
Albert Dock Liverpool Waterfront By Man vyi – Own work (own photo), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4643654

In present time the dock serves as a residential and retail site, and is also home to a number of Liverpool’s cultural tourist attractions such as Liverpool Tate and Merseyside Maritime Museum. The largest collection of grade I listed structures in the country.

Visitors can also enjoy a number of bars and restaurants set under the cast iron pillars all looking out onto the dock.

An important part of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage status, Albert Dock is a great way to spend a day in Liverpool. A true wonder of the city.

The Royal Liver Building

The first thing many people will picture when imagining Liverpool, and the first thing incoming ships will see when sailing up the Mersey, The Royal Liver Building.

Royal Liver Building, Pier Head, Liverpool
Royal Liver Building, Pier Head, Liverpool By alan fairweather, CC BY-SA 2.0

The building was completed in 1911 and was one of the first ever structures to include reinforced concrete, and has remained home to Royal Liver Assurance since its creation.

The Liver Building is also nesting place of the world famous Liver birds that sit atop the front and back of the buildings clock towers. Each holding a clock face larger than that of Big Bens which were set up high for passing ships to check the time on their way into port.

Legend has it that the mythical Liver Birds safeguard the city, and if either one should take flight Liverpool would disappear.

The Port of Liverpool Building

Preceding the Royal Liver Building, the Port of Liverpool building is the result of an open architecture design competition. Erected on what was once St Georges dock in 1907 a grade I listed building made from Portland stone in an Edwardian Baroque styling. The huge central dome was added for an elevate the grandeur, making the building more imposing on Liverpool’s welcoming skyline.

The Port of Liverpool Building
The Port of Liverpool Building By Rept0n1x – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19669248

Inside visitors are treated to a host of maritime related décor with the huge mosaic compass in the central hall and Calcutta marbled corridors. Perhaps most appealing ifs the granite staircase flanked by stained glass windows decorated with maritime references including images of Poseidon, God of the Seas.

A fitting tribute to the British Empire as well as a proud member of the World Heritage Three Graces.

The Cunard Building

The offices of the Cunard shipping line until 1960, was once also a place where passengers embarking on journeys across the Atlantic would wait for their vessels. For this reason, the interior of the building is heavily adorned in expensive décor, for first class passengers.

The Cunard Building
The Cunard Building CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1240842

The exterior of the Cunard Building is widely celebrated for the intricate exterior sculptures. Some depicting the different races from across the globe referring to the global operations of the Cunard line. Others refer to the zodiac, depict storms at sea or have connotations to gods of war and peace.

Most recently to mark the centenary birthday celebration an exhibition was unveiled in tribute to the band The Jam titled The Jam: About the Young Idea. As a gift for the Cunard’s 100-year birthday a special commissions titled the journey, depicting the journey of the Cunard line was also unveiled.

St Georges Hall

The first thing visitors to Liverpool see when coming in by train is St George’s Hall. Today this building is at the centre of Liverpool’s performing arts and hosts antique fairs, guided tours and city events such as awards ceremonies.

St Georges Hall Liverpool
St Georges Hall Liverpool By fabiopauleri – http://www.flickr.com/photos/fabiopao/520127632/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9542109

Built in 1854 the hall is neo classic in style with strong Grecian references. With numerous huge stone columns on both sides of the building, and various bronze statues and sculptures surrounding its exterior, St George’s Hall is indeed a striking sight to behold.

St George’s plateau has been filled with crowds of people of many occasions, whether celebratory or political. On the opposite side are St John’s Gardens built upon a former cemetery and now a memorial site for prominent people from the city’s history.

The interior of St George’s Hall in striking, heavily adorned in expensive materials, with gilded woodwork and marbled intricate flooring, it is no surprise this grade I listed building has been recorded in the National Heritage List of England.

Britannia Adelphi

This is a building that has various string links to Liverpool’s intriguing past. First built in 1826 and serving passengers that were headed for North America, the hotel welcomed the rich and famous through its doors. A fabulous example of a grade II listed building that has long been prominent part of Liverpool’s appeal.

Britannia Adelphi Hotel
Britannia Adelphi Hotel By Chemical Engineer – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16024540

The interior reflects the hotels wealthy past, although now in need of some TLC. There are strong reminders of the affluence that accompanied the well to do. Marble panelling and tall pillars remain striking features of the public rooms, as well as intricate gilded celling details and beautiful French doors.

Although it may not be the ideal hotel of choice today, it’s easy to see the grandeur it once reflected in the past.

30 James Street – Home of the Titanic

Built in 1898 as a home to the offices of the White Star Line, 30 James Street – Home of the Titanic, is now a wonderfully restored grade II listed building. A luxury Liverpool hotel that has kept the buildings maritime legacy alive within the striking red and white stone walls.

30 James Street – Home of the Titanic
30 James Street – Home of the Titanic

Original features of this striking building remain intact to date, and now serve as a popular attraction to hotel guests and maritime aficionados alike. Perhaps the grandest feature of this building is the White Star Grand Hall, that has hosted glorious wedding ceremonies and celebratory events since the doors to the hotel opened to the public.

The White Star Line registered the RMS Titanic to sail, and although it never came into port in the city, the cultural links to Liverpool were strong. The tragic sinking of the ship was announced from the street facing balcony as those doing so were too afraid to leave the building into the crowds of people that had gathered to hear the disastrous news.

For those interested in the RMS Titanic and its amazing story, 30 James Street – Home of the Titanic is a must visit for your list.

Sefton Park Palm House

In a city famed for its Neo classic, gothic or baroque style architecture, a breath of fresh air comes in the form of Sefton Park’s Palm House.

Originally built to house a collection of tropical plants, the glass Victorian green house was an attraction to Sefton Park built from a gift of £10,000 donated by Liverpool millionaire Henry Yates Thompson. Falling into decline and dereliction in the 1980’s the Palm House was given new life in 2001 as a popular visitor attraction.

Sefton Park Palm House
Sefton Park Palm House

Today the Palm House hosts fairs, concerts and events and is home to a number of statues celebrating notable explorers, botanists and navigators of the past.

A beautiful reminder of times of old, easy to imagine the gentry talking the air in Sefton Park stopping to admire the beauty of plants from far off lands.

So as much as London is a wonderful city to behold, there is so much more to see further north on our tiny island. Just one of the miraculous cities preserving its rich heritage through the ages, so that we can all share pieces of history with generations to come.

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