Day 5. The Belfast Peace Walls & the Titanic Experience

Our long weekend in Belfast was drawing to a close but gladly we still had a full day of interesting activities planned for our final day.  After a delicious breakfast at the Harrison Hotel we packed up our belongings and we reluctantly checked out of our lovely rooms which had been home for the last four nights.

C.S. Lewis Suite, Harrison Hotel, Belfast
The C.S. Lewis Suite at the Harrison Hotel

Our first activity of the day was a Black Cab bespoke tour of the city with Billy Scott from Touring Around Belfast who picked us up from our hotel. Our tour took us past the Crown Liquor Saloon where we had enjoyed dinner on our first evening and then along to Belfast City Hall where we made a brief stop to learn about the building’s history.

King William III Mural, Belfast Peace Walls
King William III Mural, Belfast Peace Walls

From there, we continued on to the Peace Walls where we enjoyed a tour of the political murals of the Falls and Shankill Road which tell their own graphic story of what is known as “The Troubles” in Ireland’s recent history.  The Walls reflect the history of Northern Ireland.

Mural of Bobby Sands, Belfast City Walls
Mural of Bobby Sands, Belfast City Walls

Our Blue Badge tour guide Billy was very entertaining and provided us with an unbiased commentary, stopping frequently for us to get out of the taxi to take photographs.

Gates along the Peace Walls in Belfast
Gates along the Peace Walls in Belfast

We walked along the infamous peace line which was built to keep Nationalists and Loyalists apart and divided communities.  Along here, our guide handed us a pen to follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama by writing our own messages on the peace wall next to the thousands of others.

Belfast Peace Walls with topical murals
Topical murals along part of the Belfast City Walls

After completing our tour of the Peace Walls we travelled the short distance to East Belfast to view the Stormont Estate and parliament building which is home to the Northern Ireland assembly.  The estate dates back to 1830 and is open to the public and set in beautifully landscaped gardens.  Stormont is approached through a gate lodge at the Prince of Wales entrance and along a grand avenue of lime trees.  These were planted in such a way as to give the illusion that the trees are giving way to allow an even better view of the parliament building.

Stormont, Parliament Building, Belfast
Stormont Parliament Building, Belfast

Tours of Stormont are usually available but currently suspended.  However, even if the building is closed, it is still worth a visit to explore the grounds.  Standing on the roundabout at the top of the avenue is a statue of Lord Edward Carson who was leader of the Irish Unionist Alliance and Ulster Union Party between 1910-1921.

View down the driveway from Stormont
Looking back along the avenue of trees

To one side of the long driveway are the Rose Gardens which were developed in 2013 to create an area of quiet reflection with circular rose beds complimented by lavender.  Although there weren’t any roses in bloom during the time of our visit, it was still interesting to see.

Rose Garden at Stormont, Belfast
Stormont Rose Garden

Back in the taxi, our tour moved on to the C.S. Lewis Square adjacent to the East Side Visitor Centre.  I was excited to take a walk through this public space as it was the C.S. Lewis suite that I had been staying in at The Harrison.  He is best known for his magical world of Narnia in his book, the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  The square features over 300 mature trees and 7 statues by the Irish artist Maurice Harron.

C.S. Lewis Square, Belfast
C.S.Lewis Square, Belfast

Finally, we headed over to the Titanic Quarter where Billy pointed out the enormous dry dock and pump house where Titanic last sat on dry land.  We then took a look at the historic slipways from where Titanic and Olympic were first launched into the water.

Harland & Wolff Cranes, Titanic Quarter, Belfast
Harland & Wolff Crane in the Titanic Quarter

An iconic landmark of the Harland & Wolff shipyard is the huge pair of yellow shipbuilding gantry cranes named after the biblical figures of Samson and Goliath which we had seen from a distance on our arrival into the airport.

Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast

As planned, Billy dropped us off outside the entrance to Titanic Belfast, a tour of which he had just set the scene for.  Standard entrance tickets for the Titanic Experience which also includes a tour of SS Nomadic are £19.  The tour of SS Nomadic is valid for 12 months and so does not need to be taken on the same day if it is more convenient to visit later.

Titanic Belfast
Outside Titanic Belfast

The building replicates four ship hulls and was built to the same height as the Titanic hull.  Its exterior is clad in 3,000 aluminium plates creating a shimmering ice blue appearance enhanced by reflective pools of water surrounding it.  Titanic Belfast opened in April 2012 as a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city.  Its galleries tell the story of the historic shipyard from boomtown Belfast at the time of the ship’s construction at the beginning of the 20th century to RMS Titanic’s fateful maiden journey.  (I’m not sure how many of you know what RMS stands for, I certainly didn’t, so I investigated and discovered it is Royal Mail Steamer indicating that the Titanic was contracted to carry mail).

Shipyard Ride Cable Car, Titanic Belfast
The Shipyard Ride Cable Car at Titanic Belfast

A shipyard ride cable car type structure then takes visitors on a journey revealing a fascinating insight into the sights, sounds and smells of the shipyard demonstrating what tasks had to be carried out in order to build the Titanic.

First class cabin, Titanic Belfast
An example of one of the first class cabins

The launch experience is bittersweet.  Titanic departed Belfast on 2nd April 1912 to travel to England, France and Ireland to pick up passengers for her maiden transatlantic voyage but at 11.40 on 14th April the ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic.

The ill fated Titanic, Titanic Belfast
The ill fated Titanic

Two and a half hours later Titanic sank and 1,512 people lost  their lives. The 705 survivors were taken by RMS Carpathia onto New York.  The Titanic Experience then takes on a sombre note as we were led into a theatre showing the journey to the bottom of the ocean and the discovery by divers of the Titanic in 1985.  The tragedy of RMS Titanic will certainly live on thanks to the extremely interesting and well documented Titanic Experience.

SS Nomadic, Titanic Quarter, Belfast
SS Nomadic, Titanic Quarter, Belfast

After a browse in the gift shop we walked across to where the SS Nomadic was berthed to take a look at Titanic’s original tender ship and last remaining White Star Line vessel.

Drawing Office Two, Titanic Hotel, Belfast
Drawing Office Two, Titanic Hotel

To complete our tour of the Titanic Quarter we then enjoyed a meal in Drawing Office Two at the Titanic Hotel, the former headquarters of the Harland and Wolff Shipbuilders.  This historic building has been painstakingly restored and converted into a boutique hotel, bar and restaurant.

The Titanic Hotel, Belfast
The Titanic Hotel, Belfast

Drawing Room Two is filled with natural light from its large windows and spectacular three storey high barrel-vaulted ceiling.  In this very room where we were dining, many of the world’s most famous ocean liners including RMS Titanic were designed.  White Star Line posters adorn the walls and authentic features including Villeroy & Boch tiles that surround the island bar are the same as the ones used for Titanic’s swimming pool and first class bathrooms.

Lunch, Drawing Room Two, Titanic Hotel, Belfast
Lunch in Drawing Room Two at the Titanic Hotel

Sitting cosily at a window table, we soaked up the atmosphere whilst enjoying an delicious meal prior to our flight home.  Service was exemplary and the food cooked to perfection, the perfect way to end our visit to Belfast.

Inside the Titanic Hotel, Belfast
Interior of the Titanic Hotel

George Best Belfast City Airport was then just over a five minute taxi ride from the Titanic Hotel.  Our Aer Lingus flight back to Manchester departed on time and in less than an hour we were exiting the airport and on our way home.

Arriving back at Manchester Airport from Belfast on Aer Lingus
Arriving back at Manchester Airport from Belfast on Aer Lingus

Our four night stay in Belfast had been an unforgettable experience and we had loved every minute of it from exploring the city centre and its attractions to visiting the Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Coast.  If you haven’t already visited, I believe that Belfast should be on everyone’s ‘must see’ places as it has so much to offer, the locals are welcoming and the food irresistible.  In these strange times when overseas holidays seem a distant memory, I hope this series of posts might inspire you to board a plane to visit Belfast as I’m sure you won’t regret it and I personally can’t wait for the opportunity to return to see more of Northern Ireland.

During our stay in Belfast we were guests of Visit Belfast and the The Harrison Hotel and as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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64 thoughts on “Day 5. The Belfast Peace Walls & the Titanic Experience

  1. Thank you for a nice and informative tour through Belfast – I’ve really enjoyed all your photo’s and stories.
    I was particularly looking forward seeing more of the Titanic and was not disappointed in your last post in learning more on the history of this world-famous ship.
    Thanks Marion, it was another great virtual tour with lots of wonderful new places to discover!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ThingsHelenLoves

    The Titanic Experience looks great, I find the history of it all intriguing. I visited an exhibition about the wreck of the Titanic when we visited Leipzig in Germany and it was haunting. The tour of the murals looks very interesting too, the image of King William made me smile. As a child if I ever complained of boredom, my dad would tell me to go and draw, ‘King Billy on his horse’. I drew him many times before I had a clue who he might be!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lots of reasons to see Belfast. Next trip for sure. Would love to see the Titanic Museum, as we have seen the Titanic exhibit at the Halifax Maritime Museum, the opposite end of its fateful voyage. Thanks for sharing Marion. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Belfast is a wonderful very and whilst it’s retained much of its architecture and its history, it has developed into a vibrant place to visit. I’ve not been to Nova Scotia but would like to when the pandemic ends. Somewhere else to look thread to visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so pleasing to learn that you found Titanic Belfast to be so interesting. I found it to be a moving experience too. Belfast is a wonderful city and hopefully we’ll all be able to get back there before too long. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have enjoyed this series of posts on Belfast very much indeed. As always Marion, you convey so much information and detail which could be used as a future guide. I must admit that Belfast has never been on my travel radar! I have visited Dublin and loved the city, vowing to go back but have never even considered Belfast. With limited options abroad, I feel that Belfast could be a very good option. Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Lahoucine Elassry

    Wonderful post. Your photos are gorgeous. Your details are interesting. What you did entice to know for the account and I look forward to more adventures .

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Visiting the Peace Walls and Titanic Quarter made it a day to remember. Let’s hope you manage to get over to Belfast before too long Andy. Thanks for all your valued comments throughout the year and for taking the time to read my posts. Wishing you a Happy New Year! M.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Day 5. The Belfast Peace Walls & the Titanic Experience – SORKAR ORG

  7. I love this, I was just thinking I’d like to visit Belfast today and your post popped up in my feed 😊 The Titanic museum looks really interesting, I randomly went to a Titanic exhibition in Kraków a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it so I think I would love this!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I’m certain you would enjoy visiting Belfast when the time is right to travel once again. The entire city is gorgeous and the Titanic Quarter a delight. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope you have a happy new year and that things improve quickly for us all Lucy.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Wonderful post, and the pictures were very pretty. I still don’t know a lot about the Irish Troubles, and I was unaware of the Peace Line, so it was interesting to images of it. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 5 people

  9. What a wonderful, detailed post! I’ve not been to Belfast (nor Northern Ireland) before, but your photos and descriptions of what you did entice me to go! It really is fascinating to view the history of the Titanic and CS Lewis (the latter whom I had no idea originated from Northern Ireland), all the while enjoying the good food and drink that’s to be offered. Thanks for the account, and I look forward to more adventures from you soon!

    Liked by 6 people

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