Reborn as a cool, modern city, Belfast has successfully left its troubles behind, emerging as a hotbed of culture and architecture, where the comfort of a cosy pub is never far away. Take a voyage of discovery in its maritime quarter, home to a celebrated museum dedicated to the most famous ship ever built, which was constructed right here in the city’s shipyards.
A walk across the Lagan Weir Footbridge brings you to Belfast’s fascinating Titanic District – an area of the city devoted to its rich ship-building heritage. The state-of-the-art Titanic Museum brings the story of the doomed vessel to life, and is the largest museum dedicated to the infamously ‘unsinkable’ ship. Wind up a nautical-themed ramble along the Maritime Mile with a visit to SS Nomadic, the smaller cousin of the Titanic, and a ship which serves as a fascinating time capsule back to the pomp and grandeur of the Titanic, while also telling its own stories of service in both World Wars. There’s just enough time to give the 10-metre long Salmon of Knowledge sculpture a quick peck for luck, before continuing to explore.
A stark barbed wire and graffitied sheet metal barrier marks an abrupt scar through the city’s residential areas. The Peace Line was constructed during the height of the Troubles, when Belfast was plagued by sectarian divisions between Protestants and Catholics. Nowadays, you can jump in a black taxi tour to see the colourful murals and living history of the walls, which stand as a stark reminder of the fragility of peace. After exploring the city’s historic divisions, a reminder of Belfast’s uniting creativity can be found at the Metropolitan Arts Centre – a seven-storey tall building, which invites light to gloriously cascade inside. The Cathedral Quarter is a cobbled blend of flower-adorned pubs, restaurants and theatres, and venues where music spills out onto the streets at night, and many a pint is cheerily shared.