The city of Belfast was formed in the early 17th century. The name Belfast derives from the Gaelic words Beal Feirste meaning mouth of the sandy ford. The city has the world's largest dry dock, and famously the ill-fated Titanic was constructed here. The city is also well known for the civil conflict that raged from 1969 to the late 1990’s, now known collectively as ‘The Troubles’. A popular tourist activity involves taking black taxi tours of the once infamous Shankill and Falls roads to see the large political murals of representing both sides of the Troubles. In recent years Belfast has prospered due to the new peace that there is now in Northern Ireland. Belfast, once a battle-scarred backwater, is now undergoing a huge transformation, resulting from this new political stability, into a desirable destination and investment hotspot.
Below are some of the main visitor attractions in Belfast City.
The castle rests on the slopes of Cavehill in its well maintained public grounds. Within the grounds there are many walks leading through the forest or more strenuous walks up to Napoleons Nose or McArds Fort as it is officially known.
Belfast Zoo is one of the most acclaimed in the world. It situated on the side of the Cave Hill and has fantastic panoramic views over the city. Highlights include the red pandas, gorillas, spectacled bears and the stunning underwater views of penguins and sealions.
Albert Memorial Clock
This clock tower actually leans about 4 feet (1.25 metres) from vertical as a result of the building having been built of land which was reclaimed from the river Lagan. The tower is 113 feet (35 metres) high and is decorated with crowned lions holding shields and floral decoration.
Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Council is housed in this magnificent building. Designed in the style of a spectacular Edwardian ‘wedding cake’ and built to enhance Belfast’s new found status as a city, which was granted by Queen Victoria in 1888. Its Dome is 173 feet (53 metres) high. There are fine decorations of figures above the door consisting of Hibernia encouraging and promoting the Commerce and Arts of the City.
The Crown Liquor Saloon
The Crown Liquor Saloon in Great Victoria Street, is one of the best examples of the many Victorian gin palaces which once flourished in the industrial cities of Britain. It is wonderfully preserved by the UK National Trust and managed by Bass Ireland, the Crown is still a very popular watering hole of people of Belfast.
The Cathedral Quarter
The Cathedral Quarter derives its title from St. Anne’s Cathedral, the religious heart of the city. The part of the city is packed full of fascinating architecture, ranging from distinguished banks and public buildings, to traditional pubs and trendy modern restaurants. Some of these, such as the Custom House, occupy prominent public locations. But there are many interesting buildings tucked away in the narrow cobbled streets and alleyways of the city.
Harland & Wolfe Dry Dock
Harland and Wolfe shipyard on is located on Queens Island. The Titanic was built here in 1911 by Britain's White Star Line and represented both the best and worst in this age of prosperity and progress. The shipyard contains the largest dry dock in the Europe and the two giant yellow cranes used for construction of ships are known as Samson and Goliath.