Shandon is an important cultural and historical area of Cork city. It is home to a number of iconic buildings, including Shandon church with its famous steeple and bells, the North Cathedral, O'Connell Square with its buildings from the former Butter Exchange, and Skiddy's Almshouse. 

The Shandon area has undergone many changes since earliest times. It is today an increasingly diverse area, with many immigrants and their new families, and the area has been the focus of urban renewal in recent years by Cork City Council and by the Shandon Area Renewal Association.

Renewal schemes have included the redevelopment of historic buildings, the renovation of Shandon Street, and the Architectural Conservation Area painting grant scheme.
Many historic buildings survive in the Shandon area. St Anne's Church and belfry, visible from many parts of Cork city, is one of the most iconic features of the city.

Other important architectural landmarks include the former North Infirmary (now a hotel), the Cork Butter Exchange and its Firkin Crane satellite building, and Skiddy's Almshouse, the oldest residential complex in the city. For centuries, Shandon played an important role in the civic and commercial development of the north side of today's city, beginning with the construction of Shandon Castle which became the administrative seat of Munster.  The former castle, destroyed in 1690, was used for part of the Cork Butter Exchange, the largest butter exchange in the world at one point and the commercial heart of the north side of the city.