Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast has witnessed a troubled 20th century following political and religious struggles and captured the World’s attention for all of the wrong reasons. The good news is that the city has largely recovered from these dark days and it is now a fantastic city to visit and to discover Northern Ireland. If you’ve previously had fears about visiting Belfast then you can confidently put these fears to one side and here are some of the best activities to do in the Northern Irish capital.
Belfast’s Ulster Museum is a museum that pays homage to over 9,000 years of Irish history, both the north and the south. The museum is situated in the grounds of the vast botanic gardens which cover over 8,000 square acres of land. The museum not only features pieces of Irish history but also artefacts from the Spanish Armada and other international pieces. The Irish history exhibits are a mixture of fine art, architectural history, history of Irish industry and a whole host of photographic, audio and visual exhibits for visitors to learn more about this country’s past.
Visit the Murals
During the infamous ‘troubles’ in Ireland which resulted in a separation of the country and an incredible amount of bloodshed as war was waged between separatist groups and the religious divide. During these times it was common for huge murals to be painted on the sides of houses often as a memorial for people who had been killed or messages of hopes of peace or even murals that acted as a call to arms. These days you are able to take tours around these fantastic pieces of art that still adorn many walls and get a glimpse into what these difficult times were like for those who lived through it.
Belfast’s Zoo is set in a beautifully tranquil setting on the grassy Cavehill slope, the environment is perfect for animals as they are away from noise pollution and general urban development. The zoo has been widely praised not just for it’s location but also for the fact that the large majority of it’s 140 species of animals are endangered in their natural habitat. The zoo works tirelessly on conservation projects and has been something of a leader when it comes to regenerating particular animal species such as kangaroos. The zoo holds over 1,200 animals and is the perfect day out during your time in Belfast.
Also on the large Cavehill slope sits Belfast’s castle, a 150 year-old castle that offers the most spectacular unobstructed views of the city. Whilst this castle may not be as old as many other castles in big cities such as Edinburgh, the original castle was located in the town and was burned down in 1508, it is still an incredible piece of architecture and rich in history. There is a visitor centre and an antique shop at the castle and there are daily tours, I’d recommend the tour as this way you will have the best opportunity to learn about the history of this great building.