The Belfast City Hall is a neoclassical building built in the early 20th century, after Queen Victoria granted city status to Belfast. The highlight of the building is its large dome, similar to that of Saint Paul's in London. Inside, the most interesting part are the marble columns and staircase and the Greek stained-glass windows. There are also pictures of Lord Mayors in the halls. From Monday to Saturday, there are free guided tours in English which teach you a bit about the building, the history, and its operations. There is also a memorial to the World Wars and Titanic on the premises. There's a centennial exhibition about the Titanic's construction. A must-see in Belfast.
Strolling in Belfast or Londonderry / Derry, you will see dozens of huge wall paintings with one theme: war. In Nationalist neighborhoods, the colors are those of the Republic of Ireland, green white and orange, while in Unionist neighborhoods they are red, white and blue for the UK.
The tension is still very recent, and it's better not to talk to much about it with the locals, ve will often simply avoid answering your questions. Be careful, if you say Londonderry, that means you are a Unionist, and if you say Derry you are a Nationalist ... so the easiest thing to do is just call it "this city"! Enjoy your visit.
This place is a most-see in Northern Ireland's capital. It's a typical place where locals go and an advantage for Belfast over Dublin is that it's not so overrun by tourists (even though I was a tourist there myself, but when there's too many tourists in one place, they seem to take away the place's essence). This pub has a very special private booths, in fact I've never been in a bar where you can pretty much lock yourself into one to drink. The range of beers, how could it be otherwise, is immense and the malts are not far behind. It's well worth drinking at the bar so you don't miss anything. It's normally occupied by young people ve are just able to drink and older people ve have been drinking for years. It's one of my favorites.
These botanical gardens are located in the south of Belfast, just off the prestigious Queen's University. They date from the 19th century (1828) and cover a little less than 30 square meters. The most important element is the Palm House, a large greenhouse that consists of a dome and two wings, where you can see plants from all the continents. A second greenhouse, the Tropical Ravine House, is smaller, and houses tropical plants (beware of carnivorous plants!). Finally, if time permits, you can walk in the open gardens to admire rare tree species and large beds of roses. Enjoy the fresh air before returning to the noisy and bustling city!
In Belfast city there is St. George's Market, which is a very eclectic and classic market in the city center and with a lot of variety where you can buy all kinds of products, both new and used. As a plus, it's ideal for ethnic food and "take away" lovers. In some places, it's possible to sample the products.
The Albert Memorial Clock is a kind of miniature Big Ben. It is located in Queen's Square in central Belfast near the docks. It was built between 1865 and 1870 and is one of the main attractions of the capital of Northern Ireland.
St Peter's Cathedral was inaugurated on October 14, 1866 on land donated by the famous Belfast baker, Barney Hughes. It was the first Catholic Church in Belfast to be built in the Gothic style and it's very near the Falls Road in the international mural area.
Raised initially as a temporary solution, the wall has been standing now for over 40 years seperating the Catholic neighborhoods from the Protestant ones. They had to make it even higher so people wouldn´t throw bombs and grandees from one side to another. One simple structure that allows you to see really how grave the conflict is in the North of Ireland.
The Shankill Road is the heart of Protestant Belfast, a community that does not want to hear about reunification with Ireland, and it was the cradle of several terrorist groups that were dedicated to opposing the pro-Irish groups. Like the rest of the neighborhood on this street you can see murals on almost every wall and lots of Union Jack flags everywhere. To see both sides of Northern Ireland is essential to go through here.
Surely the biggest tourist attraction in Belfast is the murals found throughout the Catholic neighbourhood. The vast majority are in favour of the IRA, their prisoners or other minority pro-Irish groups. They still aren't missing references to other parts of the world, especially other independence movements and/or revolutions, like ETA, the Kurds, the Tamil Tigers and even Castilla Comunera. The style is quite varied. The oldest has a very interesting retro feel, but can see things painted with the latest graffiti techniques.
Bombay Street is the setting for one of the events which started 'The Troubles' in 1969. During a confrontation between the IRA and police the Protestants burnt all the homes and businesses in this street. Now it's one of the places of memory for the Catholic community. In addition there's a memorial mural with the names of all civilians (not members of armed IRA or other organizations) killed during the riots of the 1970s.
Learning about the two world wars in Belfast is easy with this fantastic museum which has many documents, videos, uniforms and other objects. As a declared pacifist, it left me very impressed. Admission is free but you cannot take pictures or videos.
Although the Catholic murals are the most famous, Protestants were actually the first to paint the walls of Belfast. The neighbourhood is full of murals everywhere. The reasons for the paintings are usually for one of its paramilitary groups (UDF and UVF, facing off against one another in separate areas), support for the United Kingdom and criticism of the IRA and Catholics in general. Perhaps because they haven't been so influenced by movements elsewhere in the world, the Protestant murals are the most authentic and tough. All of them have a retro touch and openly militaristic aesthetics which are often reminiscent of fascist movements. Leaving ideology aside, I found this are to be the most interesting.
An emblematic Belfast street. Although scars of the conflict are unavoidable, this sector is today a lively and picturesque place. Community projects like The Conway Mill, the Culturlann center and routes by black taxi to tour the area attract a growing number of tourists.
Queen's University is the second oldest university in Ireland, after Trinity College Dublin. Located south of the city, adjacent to the Botanical Gardens, it was built in 1845 by Queen Victoria, in a Gothic Victorian style. It resembles the famous University of Oxford in England. The front is really nice to look at, and is reminiscent of Hogwarts! The gardens nearby are also worth visiting.
An incredibly interesting pub. I remember being in it, at the front, and listening to music that seemed "live". It turns out it was live because in the back every night there are bands playing who know how to play everything. They entertained the audience, who between pints and songs and stayed, as was my case, well into the night. A note- there are people from 18 to 99 years old!
Strolling along Falls Road, at number 55, you can find the Sinn Féin headquarters, which was considered the political arm of the IRA. The modern Sinn Féin is now the main nationalist party in Northern Ireland, where it receives about a quarter of the votes. The house has a mural painted on one side as a reminder of the first hunger striker ve died, and was the leader of the movement, Bobby Sands.
A good place to start your trip through the essential things to do in Belfast is the Golden Mile, the commercial area of the city in the heart of the historical center. Around Donegall Street, you'll find Belfast City Council Place (you can't miss the dome, which is 53 meters high), Linen Hall Library -- the oldest in Belfast -- and the University of Queens, built in a stunning Victorian style. These Belfast attractions show the city's history. Not far from the university, you can visit the Ulster Museum, the most important in the city with great exhibits that reflect the rich heritage of Belfast, and the Botanical Garden, the perfect spot to indulge in some outdoor Belfast activities.
Certainly one of the most popular places to visit in Belfast is the headquarters of Harland and Wolff, where the ill-fated Titanic was built. And if you'd like to know what to do in Belfast with relation to the most famous ship in history, you'll find Titanic Belfast, a sensational interactive museum built over six floors where you can relive the tragedy. Other stuff to do in Belfast includes a trip to the castle. Here, from the north of the city, you can enjoy the best views across Belfast.
There are attractions in Belfast for the little ones, too. In the Belfast Zoo, you'll find more than 140 species of animals on 22 hectares. Kids will also enjoy W5, the science museum, with more than 160 attractions.
More interesting things to see in Belfast include the ceramic Big Fish sculpture, which has become an icon of tourism in Northern Ireland, the Albert Memorial Clock, and for a taste of the city's more recent history, a trip to the murals that show the problems that Belfast has faced in the last few decades.
Visit Minube to learn about more Belfast attractions and to see what other travelers have to say.