We’ve all heard of the ill fated ship, the Titanic, thanks to Leo and Kate, but perhaps less is widely known about its monumental origins. This feat of engineering was constructed by strong Irish hands, and Titanic Belfast is a monument both to Belfast’s maritime heritage and the Titanic itself, on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city’s Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built. Visit, explore and learn – it’s really quite incredible.
Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption and a spectacular attraction on the Irish coast. Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, you can do a full day tour from Belfast all year round to learn about this incredible feat of nature.
The epic HBO series Game of Thrones sparked imagination and passion, as well as some rather out of this world tours in the Belfast vicinity. Set in remote forests and beaches that really are awe inspiring, you can go on a dedicated tour from Belfast, complete with cloaks and swords at no extra cost. It’s your chance to see filming locations from the series including Cushendun Caves where Melisandre gave birth to a dark spirit and Tollymore Forest to the wildling pit.
It may not be the first thing you think of doing on your spa break, but as Belfast has a wealth of history from the magical to the rather more gruesome. Crumlin Road Gaol, affectionately known as Crum, is a former prison situated on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast, and is the only Victorian era prison remaining in Northern Ireland since 1996. Now you can visit and go on a historic tour, which is definitely worth the time. However, you can also go on a paranormal tour, an eery prospect given the sightings, noises and unexplained happenings within these walls that have seen 17 men executed over its 150-year history.
As you already know, Belfast has a strong history when it comes to ship-building, and that is reinforced on a visit to HMS Caroline. The ship is a decommissioned C-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy that saw combat service in the First World War and served as an administrative centre in the Second World War. Caroline provided signal and cypher facilities to her attached light craft and as the war developed Belfast soon came to play a vital part in the Battle of the Atlantic – it’s a majestic experience.
Northern Ireland’s premier theatre, presenting a programme of drama, dance, opera, comedy, musicals and family shows, the Grand Opera House is a chance to see some of Belfast’s finest performances. What better way to spend an evening than dressing up for an evening of theatre!?
One of the most striking pieces of architecture in Northern Ireland, a tour of the Stormont Estate and Parliament Buildings is a wonderful way to get to know the city’s history. The architect Sir Arnold Thornely, who was knighted by King George V in recognition of his architectural work, designed the building with perfect symmetry and symbolism, such as the building being 365ft, wide representing one foot for every day of the year.
Situated on the piazza at the Fountain Centre, is the only automaton clock in Ireland. It was created to celebrate the millennium in 2000. 24 bells play on the hour, from 9am to 6pm. Every three hours, religious figures emerge to commemorate the birth of Christ – King David is followed by John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary, holding the infant Jesus. Every other hour, characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland rotate around the three mosaic panels designed and executed by Berni Sutton of Coney Island, Co Down. They depict the progress of the day – morning, noon and night. It is a little piece of creative magic to come and watch.
Erected in 1865 in Gothic style to commemorate Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert. At 113ft it was tall enough to offer an excellent vantage point for at least one enterprising sightseer to get a birdseye view of Titanic’s launch. Up until a relatively recent renovation, the clock was also Belfast’s answer to the leaning tower of Pisa. Worth a gander and an elaborate way to tell the time.
An award-winning, purpose-built conference, arts and entertainment centre, Belfast Waterfront has welcomed more than five million visitors, staged more than 3,000 entertainment events and hosted more than 2,000 conferences since it opened in 1997. Even if you’re not going to a performance however, the contemporary building is a joy to visit. Head to one of their two bars, or the arc brasserie which overlooks the River Lagan and offers superb views of Belfast.
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