A Brief stay in Belfast

Where did I go: Belfast, Northern Ireland

When did I go: January 2017

My first trip of 2017 was to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.  It was the first time I visited Belfast, and for that matter, Northern Ireland. These are a few highlights of the city and my own thoughts about it.

City Hall

If you are in Belfast city centre, it’s hard to miss the city hall. Built in the Baroque architecture and centrally located, it’s an imposing building, whichever angle you look at it.  

Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria. Construction began in 1898 under the supervision of architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas and was completed in 1906 at a cost of £369,000. Apparently, the city hall in Durban, South Africa is almost an exact replica of Belfast’s City Hall. It was built in 1910 and designed by Stanley G. Hudson, who was inspired by the Belfast design.

The interiors are just as impressive as the outside. The interior has a number of notable features including The Porte-Cochère and Grand Entrance, The Grand Staircase, The Reception Room and The Great Hall. The great hall was was destroyed during the World War II and subsequently rebuilt.

And of course, because it was only a few days after Christmas, there was a lovely Christmas Tree in the lobby.

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A free 45 minute guided tour will take you through the most interesting parts if the city hall. I would highly recommend it.  There are free guided tours available (11 am 2pm and 3pm on weekend and 12 noon, 2pm and 3 pm on weekends). The staff at the city hall and the tour guide were so welcoming and answered all our questions. Check the city hall gates for latest info about the tours.

Victoria square and the dome

Victoria Square is a shopping, leisure and, residential development in the heart of Belfast. The main feature of the centre is a glass dome that offers 360 degree views of Belfast. we only had time to visit it at night, when the glass panes reflect the inside of the centre. It’s like looking at a giant prism.

Titanic quarter

Formally known as the Queens Island, Titanic quarter is the folder shipbuilding quarter if Belfast. The area went through a period if decline when the ship building here reduced. But, the area has undergone a massive recent re-generation. It is now home to a number  of waterfront developments, both residential and commercial and an indoor arena that seas 10,000.

It is also home to Titanic Belfast, the World’s largest attraction dedicated to the Titanic. We visited the Titanic Belfast, and you can read all about it here.

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Samson and Goliath

Samson and Goliath are two enormous gantry Cranes in Belfast. They are situated in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in the titanic quarter. Named after the Biblical figures Samson and Goliath, the two cranes are permanent structures in Belfast. I wonder if there is any other city in the world that has two gigantic cranes as permanent features.

St George’s Market

St George’s Market is the last Victorian market in Belfast. Built in late 1800’s it still operates with 300 traders, craftsmen, musicians and foodies.

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It reminded me of the bull ring markets in Birmingham, but in a much nicer building

Things we missed

We didn’t get time to go to the Cathedral Quarter (other than a brief drive through) or Queen’s Quarter but I couldn’t do a post about Belfast without mentioning these two. Cathedral Quarter is home to the impressive St Anne’s cathedral. It is also home to many pubs and bars, many of them with live Irish music.  The Queen’s Quarter is home to the Queen’s University of Belfast. This is one of the prettiest areas of Belfast and located in the southern most part if the city.

Final thoughts

Although we didn’t have time to fully explore Belfast, we saw enough to convince that it’s a place worth returning to. There is no doubt that Belfast is a modern and fast growing city. Nevertheless, it still retains its Irish charm. People we met were warm and friendly and were very happy to have visitors.  I think it’s fair to say that Belfast has paid its dues and gone through the darker days with the “troubles” and decline of the shipbuilding industry. To paraphrase the words in the Titanic Belfast museum: “go now, before the World discovers Belfast”.
I’m certain we didn’t get around to seeing all there is to Belfast in our brief stay. Is there any where in Belfast that you’d recommend? Anything not to miss? Leave a comment below and let everyone know.

MummyTravels
Two Traveling Texans

31 comments

  1. I think I have mentioned before that I might travel to Belfast later this year. Am bookmarking this post for future reference 🙂 Thanks for sharing! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to visit Belfast. The City Hall looks beautiful. I’m also a bit obsessed with the Titanic for many reasons, but also because I had a relative on it, and would love to visit the Titanic Museum. Some day! #theweeklypostcard

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will definitely like the Titanic Museum – especially with a close link such as yours. There were lots of personal accounts of the tragedy there. Thank you for stopping by!

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  3. i spent quite a bit of time in Ireland as a teen but the north was not quite so safe then, so we stayed down south. But I would love to explore part of the island. nice post. #weeklypostcard

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We LOVED Belfast! We didn’t get to go into City Hall, but I loved it from the outside, and all the other unique architecture around the city! We also spent a lot of time in the Titanic museum, which was our favorite museum of our entire trip in Ireland! I’m hoping to get back there someday… We took a tour with Paddy Campbell’s Famous Black Cab Tours and learned so much about the history of this fascinating city! The people were super friendly too!

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  5. I really want to go to Belfast and see the Titanic Museum. It’s interesting to see some of the other things there too. The city hall building is really impressive and ornate, would love to do that tour. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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  6. I loved Belfast – only visited for the first time in 2012 but it’s got a great atmosphere and lots of quirky places to discover. I did one of the black cab tours as well which took in a lot of the murals and would really recommend that. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

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  7. Sounds like an interesting trip…I’ve been reading more about Belfast as a place to visit recently. It will always carry the label of the troubles but I’d Iike discover more of it…before everyone else does! #citytripping

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  8. I think Belfast is quite lovely but I was most impressed by the peace walls and all the memorials at Falls and Shankills. Granted, we were totally sticking out from the locals in the area and never felt more like tourists but it was so interesting for us to learn more about the troubles and get the different perspectives on the time. I was born in 91 so I didn’t learn much about the time growing up but from our visit, it was quite clear that the issues from the past are still there in a way…

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