Northern Ireland: Places to Explore

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Photo: Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau

Belfast

The city of Belfast was a great Victorian success story, an industrial boomtown whose prosperity was built on trade—especially linen and shipbuilding. Famously (or infamously), the Titanic was built here, giving Belfast, for a time, the nickname "Titanic Town."

In 2012 the city commemorated the 100th anniversary of the liner's sinking on April 15, 1912, by opening a dazzling Titanic Belfast exhibition center. With nine galleries spread over six floors, the enormous multi-prow-shaped building—about the same height as Titanic and twice the size of City Hall—the center certainly has the wow factor. It has generated international interest, bringing in much-needed revenue and creating jobs at a difficult economic time.

This is all a welcome change from the period when news about Belfast meant reports about "the Troubles." Since the 1994 ceasefire, Northern Ireland's capital city has benefited from major hotel investment, gentrified quaysides (or strands), a sophisticated new performing arts center, and major initiatives to boost tourism. Although the 1996 bombing of offices at the Canary Wharf in London disrupted the 1994 peace agreement, the cease-fire was officially reestablished on July 20, 1997, and this embattled city began its quest for a newfound identity.

Belfast's city center is made up of three roughly contiguous areas that are easy to navigate on foot. From the south end to the north it's about an hour's leisurely walk.

Belfast at a Glance

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