Victorian Architecture is a remarkable architectural movement because it doesn’t refer to a specific style but to a period in architectural history.
It encompasses a wide range of buildings that were constructed in Revival styles during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901).
This era started around 1850 and continued throughout the 19th century. It was succeeded by Edwardian architecture (1901-1910), a reference to Queen Victoria’s successor, King Edward VII (1841-1910).
The common theme of this international movement was the revival of historic architecture, something that often resulted in an eclectic mix of styles.
The most common revival styles that define Victorian Architecture are Neoclassical architecture, Romanesque Revival architecture, and Gothic Revival architecture.
So what are some of the most famous Victorian buildings in the world? Let’s find out!
1. Victoria Building – Liverpool, England
The Victoria Building is a famous landmark in Liverpool that was constructed to become part of the University of Liverpool. It’s a beautiful red brick structure that inspired the term “red brick university,” a name that defines 19th-century university buildings in England.
Designed by renowned English architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905), it was completed between 1889 and 1892 near the end of the Victorian era. Today, this beautiful building houses the Victoria Gallery & Museum, an art gallery that first opened its doors in 2008.
2. Queen Victoria Building – Melbourne, Australia
The Queen Victoria Building, commonly referred to as the QVB, is one of the most striking feats of architecture in the central business district of Sydney. With a length of 190 meters (620 feet) and a width of 30 meters (98 feet), this landmark in Sydney covers several city blocks.
The building is dominated by a massive dome that is accompanied by 20 smaller domes. It’s a magnificent example of Romanesque Revival architecture that was completed between 1893 and 1898. Today, the building is used as a marketplace, the reason it was constructed in the first place.
3. Carson Mansion – Eureka, United States
The Carson Mansion is a famous building located in the Old Town district of Eureka, California. It’s considered to be a prime example of Queen Anne style architecture, one of the several types of Victorian Architecture that became popular in the United States during the final decades of the 19th century.
As the name of the mansion suggests, it was constructed for William Carson, an American industrialist who became extremely wealthy in the lumber business. The building was constructed in 1886 and cost $80,000 to build, the equivalent of about $2.5 million today.
4. Manchester Town Hall – Manchester, England
Manchester Town Hall is another masterpiece of Victorian architecture that was designed by English architect Alfred Waterhouse. This stunning building in Manchester is a great example of Gothic Revival architecture, one of the most popular Revival styles that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The building was constructed between 1868 and 1877 and features a beautiful clock tower that reaches a height of 85 meters (280 feet). The most notable features inside the building are the Great hall and the Banqueting Hall, ceremonial rooms that feature large murals related to the history of Manchester.
5. Royal Albert Hall – London, United Kingdom
The Royal Albert Hall is a popular landmark in London and one of the most famous concert halls in the world. It is located in the London district of South Kensington, an area that is known as “Little Paris” because many buildings located here resemble architecture in Paris.
The building was constructed between 1867 and 1871 and was officially opened by Queen Victoria in the year it was completed. Most of the world’s most famous artists have performed in this exclusive venue and today, exactly 5,272 people can admire concerts in the main auditorium.
6. Forth Bridge – Edinburgh, Scotland
Forth Bridge is a huge 19th-century railway bridge that crosses the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. It’s located about 14 kilometers (9 miles) west of the historical heart of Edinburgh, the country’s capital city, and it is considered to be one of the greatest engineering achievements of its time.
It’s one of the most popular landmarks in Edinburgh and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. It was constructed between 1882 and 1889 and it was opened by the future King Edward VII who was still the Duke of Rothesay at the time.
7. St Mary’s Cathedral – Sydney, Australia
St Mary’s Cathedral is the main Catholic church in Sydney and the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney. The building was constructed in multiple phases during the Victorian era and it was dedicated in 1865 and consecrated in 1882. It became a minor basilica in 1932 as well.
With a length of 107 meters (351 feet), it’s the longest cathedral in Australia, even though it’s not the tallest nor highest. The two Gothic-style spires are accompanied by a robust central tower. The main inspiration for the cathedral was Lincoln Cathedral, one of the most beautiful Gothic Cathedrals in England.
8. George’s Street Arcade – Dublin Ireland
George’s Street Arcade is the name of the Victorian-era shopping arcade that is located on South Great George’s Street in the southern part of Dublin’s historical heart. This beautiful feat of Victorian architecture first opened its doors in 1881 when it was named the South City Markets.
The buildings you can admire today aren’t the original ones from the 1880s because these were destroyed by a fire in 1892, less than a decade after they opened. They were quickly rebuilt, however, and the first purpose-built shopping arcade in Dublin reopened in 1894.
9. Craigdarroch Castle – Victoria, Canada
Craigdarroch Castle is a beautiful castle that is located in the Canadian city of Victoria, the capital city of the province of British Columbia. What better place was there to build a Victorian Mansion than in the city that was named after Queen Victoria, right?
The castle was constructed in 1890 and was commissioned by Robert Dunsmuir, a wealthy industrialist from the coal industry, and his wife, Joan. The building cost up to $500,000 to build at the time. Today, the castle serves as a tourist attraction that is visited by over 150,000 visitors every year.
10. Painted Ladies – San Francisco, United States
The Painted Ladies is the nickname of a row of Victorian houses that can easily be described as some of the best-recognized buildings in San Francisco. Even though this is the name of this row of buildings in San Francisco, this term can be used for all other similar Victorian houses in the United States.
What’s remarkable is that about 48,000 such Victorian houses were constructed in San Francisco alone. The most famous examples are located at 710–720 Steiner Street, which is across from Alamo Square Park. Many were painted in bright colors and therefore defined the architectural landscape in the city during the Victorian era.