In the United States, city hall is the hub of everything going on in the community. It’s much the same in Britain, and many of the UK’s cities have massive municipal buildings that are gorgeous cathedrals of local government. Their chambers have seen some of the most important decisions to come out of the borough councils, and the buildings themselves are so infused with history that many of them are listed properties. We’ve identified our five favorites in no particular order, and you can let us know your own in the comments.
Guildhall, City of London
Guildhall is home to the City of London Corporation and has had some form of government building here since the Saxons were in charge. The site is actually so old that a Roman amphitheater was discovered in the basement. Besides the Roman ruins, there’s much to see in the building including the Guildhall Art Gallery, the Great Hall (London’s only Secular medieval building), the Heritage Gallery, and the St. Lawrence Jewry which is one of the many churches built after the Great Fire.
Belfast City Hall
Centered effectively between the commercial and business aspects of city center, Belfast City Hall is a grand Victorian civic building constructed between 1898 and 1906. The design is a Baroque Revival with four towers on the corners and a copper dome in the center that is now a lovely rust-green. City Hall has a dedication monument to the victims of the Titanic sinking and, if you go at night, spotlights illuminate the building in a variety of colors. Inside the lovely tilework of the main entrance, the central staircase, and even more sculptures and artwork that will keep you entranced for hours.
London City Hall
Heading back to London for a bit, the Greater London Authority’s City Hall is certainly a marvel of modern architecture. It’s the youngest building on this list, having been completed in 2002 for the brand-new GLA and looking like a glass snail shell. The truth behind its construction is that it was made to be a model of energy efficiency and the trend in green structures that took hold at the beginning of the 21st Century. The interior features an event gallery called “London’s living room” and a circular staircase with the council chambers sitting at the base. The exterior grounds also feature a sunken amphitheater called “The Scoop” which features any number of performances throughout the year.
Glasgow City Chambers
Moving much further north, Glasgow City Chambers have been the home of some form of the Glaswegian Government since 1889. Its design is in the Beaux-arts style, a form of French neoclassicism, that also features a number of Italian designs that work together for a very ornate exterior and interior. One of the must-see parts of the building is the Carrara marble staircase, but you should also be sure to check out the Council Chambers themselves as well as the gorgeous mosaic ceilings and the Banqueting Hall. Daily tours are given through the building that will be a highlight of your visit to Glasgow.
Manchester Town Hall
Saving the best for last, unfortunately, the Manchester Town Hall has been going through renovations since 2014 as the original building is now 141 years old and will be closed until 2024. However, once it opens again in six years, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit. Both the exterior and interior offer some of the most elaborate designs the Victorian period had to offer from its grand spiral staircase to arguably the best Great Hall in the whole of England. The Great Hall is also home to the Manchester Murals, artwork depicting the history of the city up until Town Hall’s construction. It’s a shame it won’t be open for a few more years yet, but the wait is certainly worth it.