On my recent weekend in Liverpool, I fell in love with a lot of the city – the cathedrals (plural!), the artsy, creative vibe and the food. Oh yes, the food. But the thing that got every single one of my senses firing on overdrive was the Liverpool Docks – a stretch of land alongside the River Mersey with an incredible history not just for Liverpool, but the whole of the UK.
But honestly, aside from its history, I believe the Liverpool Docks to be one of the most outstanding areas of beauty in the UK. That might have something to do with my obsession with cityscapes, but the incredible architecture and views across the the River Mersey I think rival the skyline in New York. I’m 100% serious.
This area has undergone a huge regeneration in recent years, from its decline as a working dock, and the Pier Head and Albert Dock area specifically is one I’d recommend you spend some time in. Here are a selection of some of my favourite pictures from the Liverpool Docks to try and convince you that yes, this is one of the most beautiful locations in the world!
The Three Graces
The Three Graces of Liverpool consist of the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building and they define one of the most beautiful skylines in Europe. Incredible buildings in their own right, the three together are just an incredible sight, with the two Liver Birds looking out over the Mersey and the city respectively.
The Liver Building was designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas and opened in 1911. The two Liver Birds are a huge part of the history and culture of Liverpool and it’s maritime history and each has a specific role in the city. The Liver Bird looking out to the Mersey represents the wives that stayed at home and look out over their husbands who were out at sea, and the Liver Bird looking back to the city represents those same sailors looking over their family. In fact, I’ve heard that this Liver Bird is checking for when then pubs shut, but I’m sure that is just a rumour!
The local legend is that if the Liver Birds ever flew away, Liverpool would no longer exist!
The central building is the Cunard Building which was home to the Cunard Cruise Line right up until the 1960s, and now houses the British Music Exhibition. And finally, the spectacular building on the end is the Port of Liverpool Building which also Grade II listed and was the first of the three buildings to be constructed.
The Pier Head is actually part of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage site, and looking at these incredible buildings it isn’t hard to see why.The Liverpool Docks are one of the most beautiful places in the world - these photos prove it!Click To Tweet
Mersey Ferries Terminal
The Mersey Ferries Terminal building is a strikingly modern piece of architecture right on the waterfront. From here, you can take a river explorer cruise, a 50 minute trip that takes in the best views of Liverpool Waterside, whilst also taking you on a whistle stop tour of the history of the area. You can hop off at both Seacombe and Woodside ferry terminals (on the other side of the river) and explore the Spaceport and U-boat Story attractions and jump back on to get to Liverpool when you are finished.
On this occasion we were lucky enough to travel on the Dazzle Ferry, which has been active since April 2017. The famous Mersey Ferry “Snowdrop” has recently undergone an incredible makeover by Sir Peter Blake as part of the First World War commemorations. The “dazzle” design is in honour of the patterns that were first used on vessels in WWI, a fact that I never knew even though I studied this period of history.
It was amazing to board it, but also watch it from the dock itself, magical against the low winter sun.
The Albert Dock
Liverpool’s Waterfront area is a series of dock areas that stretch for miles along the Mersey, all undergoing some kind of renaissance in this modern age. Next to the central part of Pier Head is the Albert Dock, famous for its brown bricked buildings and now for its cultural heritage.
The Albert Dock is home to Liverpool’s Tate Gallery, the International Slavery Museum and the Merseyside Maritime Museum and even hosts a pirate festival all within a complex network of old warehouses and dock buildings.
There are also a number of great restaurants and hotels in the area, so if you’ve fallen in love with the waterfront in Liverpool like I have, it is a fantastic place to base yourself for a weekend. We popped into the unassuming Piermaster’s House, a 1940s wartime house which was originally built for the piermaster and his family. It gave us a great insight into what life was like in wartime Liverpool.
Historical points of interest
Dotted along the waterfront are so many reminders of why this is such an important location, and of course why Liverpool holds so much of our cultural heritage in the UK. Of course Liverpool is known for The Beatles, and you’ll find a great statue to pose next to which celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the band’s last gig played in Liverpool.
The Museum of Liverpool is also based here, a free museum dedicated to retelling the history of Liverpool and especially the history and redevelopment of the dock area. It’s built in a similar style to the Mersey Ferries Terminal, and it’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon if you are into your city history.
You’ll also find many other historical monuments along the Pier Head, including one commemorating the 244 engineers who lost their lives in the 1912 Titanic disaster (a beautiful obelisk with gold detailing), a Naval War Memorial, statues of Captain Walker and 1960’s pop singer Billy Fury and a beautiful telescope statue.
The view from the ferry
It’s incredible to walk along the waterfront and get the feel of the buildings right up close. But the real magic of Liverpool’s dockside can really only be imagined from after, taken in whilst on a Mersey Ferry cruise. These pictures I truly believe show the complete beauty of the area, where the mix of architecture rising up next to the water can be truly appreciated.
See, it’s better than the New York skyline, right?
Whilst Liverpool has so much to offer the city breaker looking for an alternative to the harsh reality of London, it’s the waterside that filled me with joy. My heart has been truly left to this beautiful area of the UK and I can’t wait to explore some more – to visit The Wirral area on the opposite side of the river which has it’s own particular charm, to explore the Mersey Tunnels and to walk much further along Liverpool’s history dock side.
I hope you’ll agree with my assessment after seeing these pictures!