The story of Derry is a long and tumultuous one. Set on a hill on the banks of the Foyle estuary, strategically close to the open sea, it came under siege and attack for over a thousand years. To this day you can walk along the great 17th-century walls, about a mile round and 18 feet thick, which withstood several sieges and even today are unbroken and complete, with old cannon still pointing their black noses over the ramparts. The great siege lasted for 105 days.
The modern city preserves the 17th-century layout of four main streets radiating from the Diamond to four gateways - Bishop's Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Shipquay Gate and Butcher's Gate.
Below are some of the main visitor attractions in Derry.
Located at Harbour Square, beside the Guildhall, the building operates as the headquarters of the Heritage and Museum Service of Derry City Council. Respecting the Victorian architecture and décor of the building the Harbour Museum has been designed as a ‘glass case’ museum. An eclectic collection of objects is on display showing the city’s maritime connections from architectural drawings, early maps and plans of the city to archaeological finds. The centrepiece of the Museum is the 30 ft ‘Iona Curragh’, used in 1963 by a group of clerics to replicate the journey undertaken by St. Colmcille to Iona in 563 AD.
The Tower Museum
The Tower Museum tells the story of Derry, chronicling the history of the city from its geological formation through to the present day. The Story of Derry charts the development of the city from its early geological beginnings to the present day, using a range of display techniques such as audio-visuals and interactives. The Armada exhibition tells the story of La Trinidad Valencera, one of the largest ships in the Armada Fleet, which sank off the Donegal Coast in 1588 and was discovered by the City of Derry Sub-Aqua club in 1971. The exhibition features many of the artefacts recovered from the sunken ship on loan from the Ulster Museum. The Tower Museum offers an unrivalled visitor experience.
Foyle Valley Railway Centre
Foyle Valley Railway Centre hosts an exciting and fascinating collection of railway artefacts including the majestic County Donegal Railway steam locomotive 'Columbkille' and diesel railcars No. 12 (1932) and No. 18 (1942). The museum celebrates the outstanding railway history of the city. The working diesel railcars run on a picturesque three-mile track through the nearby Riverside Park.
Derry City Walls
Derry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. The Walls were built during the period 1613-1618 by the honourable, the Irish Society as defences for early seventeenth century settlers from England and Scotland. The Walls, which are approximately 1.5km in circumference, form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day. A walk around Derry’s walls reveals a splendid city crammed full of history, heritage, interest and a vibrant cultural scene.
Roe Valley Country Park
Roe Valley Country Park runs for three miles either side of the River Roe near Limavady. The river plunges through spectacular gorges and its banks are clothed with mature mixed woodland. It is a beautiful tranquil location. The Country Park contains a countryside museum and the refurbished Dogleap Countryside Centre which currently has an in-house environmental display. The centre also contains a newly refurbished cafe - 'The Ritter Tea Rooms' - which has been extended to seat up to 75 customers. Working from a state-of-the-art kitchen the concessionaire offers a range of healthy-eating options and numerous Fairtrade Products. The cafe, which opens daily, affords patrons a delightful view of the country park. It has been renamed The Ritter Tearooms after John Edward Ritter and his wife who, in 1896, opened Northern Ireland's first commercial hydro-electricity scheme at the Dogleap.