Photos and the City

destination photography & travel

belfast, peace wall, nirthern ireland, uk, the troubles, murals, street art

While strolling through the centre of Belfast, the Titanic Quarter and the area around my Airbnb the Queens Quarter I didn´t think much about Belfast troubled past. There used to be barriers around the city centre to keep car bombs out, but nothing reminds of them today. Except for those memorial plates on places where bombings happened. More than 3500 people were killed and more than 50.000 injured during „The Troubles“.

belfast, peace wall, nirthern ireland, uk, the troubles, murals, street art

But there are still more than 100 so-called „Peace Walls“ in Belfast, up to six metres high they range in length from a few hundred metres to over five kilometres and up to almost 8 metres high, keeping the predominately Republican and Nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods apart from the predominantly Loyalist and Unionist Protestant.

The first Peace lines were built in 1969 and still stand. The first one was taken down last year and another one this year in September – but according to some interviews with people living in the area of Shankill Road and Falls Road I read while researching for this trip, they fear another civil war when the walls would come down.

belfast, peace wall, nirthern ireland, uk, the troubles, murals, street art

It was already late in the afternoon when I stepped out of the Titanic Experience and the area of Shankill Road and Falls Road was kind of the other side of the city, so I decided to hop on a bus and do kind of „drive-through“ tour – better than nothing. It´s quite easy to recognize the Unionist and the Nationalist areas – one of them is full of Union Jacks and other British symbols – the other one is defined by green/white/orange – the Irish colours. The hate goes way back and everyone stayed in „their quarters“ doing their sports, their schools, their religion, their food and not having any contact at all with the other side. Supposedly it got better since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 but there is still a very long way to go.

belfast, peace wall, nirthern ireland, uk, the troubles, murals, street art

The Peace Wall dividing the Falls and Shankill Roads is one the most „famous“ and runs for several kilometres and has enormous gates at junctions which served as security checkpoints and are still locked at night. The murals get overpainted often to show current events all over the world.

belfast, peace wall, nirthern ireland, uk, the troubles, murals, street art

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Murals also serve as memorials. When one shows the face of a fighter it´s a sign that he or she was killed.

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If the millions and millions of Union Jacks haven´t already made clear the dedication of the area let´s show a little bit of the Queen.

While driving around the Causeway Coast the following days I saw some other villages overloaded with Union Jacks (once even the sidewalks were painted in blue, white and red. I also saw quite a few Irish flags but they don´t seem to get so overboard with the flags – just very superficially speaking after spending only a few days in Northern Ireland. But I have to say I was really confused by seeing nothing written in Irish (or Gaelic) – it´s everywhere in Scotland and I also think in Wales, why not in Northern Ireland? It still seems to be a very hot topic regarding to some news I found.

 

 

My bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast arrived in the evening and other than talking a short walk around my Airbnb and enjoying the bathtub I didn´t do much on that evening. I spent two nights in a beautiful Victorian Building in the Queen´s Quarter – a lovely residential area named after the Queen´s University and only a 20 minute walk away from the city centre.

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Queen´s University (The Lanyon Building) – not only a beautiful building but also the oldest University of Northern Ireland, opened in 1849 with roots going back to 1810.

And right behind the university lies the Botanic Garden and another stunning greenhouse.

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Victoria Square and a little statue in front of the (closed) St. George´s market. One can find a lot of Victoria and Albert in Belfast, even my room at the Airbnb was called „Victoria & Albert Suite“.

belfast, northern ireland, united kingdon, ireland, ursula schmitz, travel city

 

Murals are everywhere, absolutely everywhere! And on the right: The Albert Memorial Clock, situated on the Queen´s Square. Completed in 1869 it is Belfast „Leaning Tower“ – as it was constructed on wooden piles on marshy land around the River Farset, the top of the tower leans about 1 metre.

belfast, northern ireland, united kingdon, ireland, ursula schmitz, travel city

After my Titanic Boat Tour, walking around the Titanic Quarter and a short bus ride to the Peace Wall (this will be the next post) I strolled back to Victoria Square and on top of the Victoria Square Shopping Center with it´s 360° view over the city. Can you spot the Albert Memorial Clock?

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Getting lost in the little alleys around the square and ending up in Cathedral Quarter, a recently redeveloped area of Belfast with lots of contemporary restaurants, bars and hotels and St. Anne´s Cathedral (Belfast Cathedral). The foundation was laid in 1899 and several additions built over the years. The most recent one a 40-metre stainless steel spire was installed on top of the cathedral in 2007 and called the „Spire of Hope“. Illuminated at night it represents the hope for peace and is part of the redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter. The biggest Celtic Cross is one side of the cathedral.

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Belfast City Hall is located on Donegal Square. In 1888 Queen Victoria awarded „city status“ to Belfast and the planning for the City Hall began. Construction started in 1898 and was finished in 1906.

belfast, northern ireland, united kingdon, ireland, ursula schmitz, travel city

During „the Troubles“ Hotel Europa on Great Victoria Street was the most bombed hotel in the world after having suffered 36 bomb attacks (and more than 40 that didn´t detonate). Today it is a four-star hotel and was completely refurbished.

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One of the most know pubs or former Victorian „gin palace“ is the Crown Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street, also known as Crown Bar.

Opened by Felix O’Hanlon as The Railway Tavern, the pub was then bought by Michael Flanagan. Flanagan’s son Patrick renamed and renovated the pub in 1885.

The Crown owes its elaborate tiling, stained glass and woodwork to the Italian craftsmen whom Flanagan persuaded to work on the pub after hours. These craftsmen were brought to Ireland to work on the many new churches being built in Belfast at the time. It was this high standard of work that gave the Crown the reputation of being one of the finest Victorian Gin Palaces of its time. (Crown Liquor Saloon)

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