UCC was established in 1845 as one of three Queen’s Colleges at Cork, Galway and Belfast. These new colleges were founded in the reign of Queen Victoria and named after her. Queen's College, Cork (QCC) was established to provide access to higher education in the Irish province of Munster. The site chosen for the new college was dramatic and picturesque, on the edge of a limestone bluff overlooking the River Lee. On the 7th of November, 1849, QCC opened its doors to a small group of 115 students after a glittering inaugural ceremony in the Aula Maxima (Great Hall), which is still the symbolic and ceremonial heart of the University.