Here are five magical places that will transport you to Narnia in Northern Ireland, the birthplace of C.S. Lewis.
Many of us did it as kids: we climbed into a wardrobe hoping to find the magical land of Narnia on the other side. And the man we have to thank for fueling our imaginations in such a way is C.S. Lewis, author of the beloved fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia.
C.S. Lewis is known the world over for creating this parallel realm, which children from the real world discover in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by climbing into a wardrobe. But did you know that Lewis was born and bred in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland?
Many people aren’t aware of Lewis’ connection to Northern Ireland or of the various sites here that are dedicated to C.S. Lewis. Here are our five favourite places where you can find a piece of Narnia in Northern Ireland, the birthplace of C.S. Lewis.
5. C.S. Lewis Square – for an outdoor stroll through Narnia
Beside the EastSide Visitor Centre in east Belfast, Narnia fans will encounter some familiar characters in a unique display of public art. C.S. Lewis Square features seven bronze sculptures from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, including Aslan, the White Witch, Mr Tumnus, and the Beavers.
At the other end of the square, in front of the Holywood Arches Library, you will also find a statue called “The Searcher,” which portrays Lewis entering the wardrobe portal to Narnia.
Open 24/7 and illuminated after dark, this square offers fun photo opportunities for Narnia fans.
Address: 402 Newtownards Rd, Belfast BT4 1HH
4. C.S. Lewis Reading Room at Queen’s University Belfast – for an inspiring place to daydream
On the first floor of the McClay Library at Queen’s University Belfast, you’ll find a striking door: a replica of the wardrobe door used in the 2005 feature film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This door leads into the C.S. Lewis Reading Room, which features quotations from the author, a huge lion rug, and a Narnia-themed table.
Those looking for an inspiring place to read, write, or study will love it here, but be warned: you might just end up daydreaming about Narnia instead of getting work done.
Note that the library is for Queen’s students and staff only, but if you tell the clerks you’d like to see the C.S. Lewis Reading Room, they’ll point you there.
Address: 10 College Park Ave, Belfast BT7 1LP
3. The Lamppost Café – for a cosy C.S. Lewis–themed eatery
Not far from C.S. Lewis Square in east Belfast is the Lamppost Café, a charming C.S. Lewis–themed café decorated with C.S Lewis quotations and references. The “lamppost” mentioned in the venue’s title is, of course, referring to the iconic lamppost where Lucy meets Mr Tumnus in Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Even if you’re not a Narnia fan, this place is worth visiting for its delicious food, coffee, tea, and tray-bakes. Of course, if you do visit as a Narnia fan, the folks at the Lamppost Café can even make a coffee with the face of Aslan appearing in it—as if caffeine isn’t magical enough on its own!
Address: 19 Upper Newtownards Rd, Belfast BT4 3HT
2. Campbell College – for the inspiration behind the Narnia lamppost
Campbell College is one of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious boys’ preparatory schools, occupying a 100-acre estate with its own lake and forest in east Belfast. C.S. Lewis studied here for one semester in 1910 before dropping out due to illness, but his brief time at Campbell seems to have influenced Narnia.
That is, an old-fashioned gas lamp that still stands in the College driveway is said to have inspired the lamppost where Lucy meets Mr Tumnus in Narnia. The school is worth visiting for its majestic grounds alone, but Narnia fans will appreciate the lamppost especially.
Address: Belmont Rd, Belfast, BT4 2ND
1. Rostrevor and Kilbroney Park – for the “Narnia Trail”
As a young boy, C.S. Lewis often spent holiday time in the Mournes and particularly Rostrevor, which is said to have inspired the land of Narnia. He also wrote in a letter to his brother, “That part of Rostrevor which overlooks Carlingford Lough is my idea of Narnia.”
Set within Rostrevor Forest is Kilbroney Park, where Narnia fans (especially younger ones) can enjoy the Narnia Trail, a short loop that you enter as you would Narnia: through a “wardrobe door.” Beyond it you will find Narnia-related sculptures and features, including the White Witch, a lamppost, the beavers’ house, and “Aslan’s table.”
Tip: For some extra magic while in Rostrevor, check out “The Fairy Glen,” a walk that begins on the left immediately after the bridge beside the entrance to Kilbroney Park.
Address: Narnia Trail, Kilbroney Park, 3ES, Kilbroney Rd, Rostrevor, Newry, Co. Down
Bonus: Belfast’s annual C.S. Lewis Festival
While the five places above are magical year-round, we’d recommend that visitors who want the fullest Narnia experience in Northern Ireland come in November, so that your trip coincides with the annual C.S. Lewis Festival in east Belfast. This celebration of the Narnia creator’s legacy includes talks, tours, performances, workshops, exhibitions, and more, for both adults and kids.
To sum up: If you’re not having any luck finding Narnia in your own wardrobe, you’ll get a whole lot closer to it at these magical places in Northern Ireland, the birthplace of C.S. Lewis.