If you wish to discover Northern Ireland in its historical and cultural aspect, we advise you to go through the city of Belfast, the official capital of Northern Ireland, located in the province of Ulster. This extraordinary city bears the traces of a painful history under the sign of British domination, politics and religion. Its Anglo-Irish cultural heritage is to be discovered absolutely!
During the 18th century, Belfast and the rest of Ireland together witnessed the emergence of a large-scale conflict between the Irish and the British, where Irish Catholics suffered incessant discrimination from British Protestants. The civil rights of Catholics were thus violated, creating great tensions within the country and in Belfast. These tensions would last until the War of Independence (1919-1921), and the ratification of the Treaty of London on 21 December 1921.
This Treaty thus put an end to centuries of political and religious conflict and formalized the creation of a new independent Irish state, known as the Irish Free State. In return, however, the London government asked to retain control of Northern Ireland and its six counties. Belfast is of course part of it and becomes the theatre of confrontations of great violence, thus opposing Catholics and Protestants through murderous attacks ordered by the IRA (Catholic side) and the Protestant militias (UVF). The conflict (nicknamed “Troubles”) then lasted more than 30 years, causing more than 3,000 deaths, as well as the imprisonment without trial of IRA members.
It was in 1998 that the Good Friday Agreement appeared as a first step in the peace process. It guarantees the possibility of creating a representative Catholic and Protestant Assembly, to organise itself on the functioning of internal political institutions in the North, and to be able to communicate and cooperate with the Republic of Ireland.
For Belfast, these are real steps towards peace, and the situation is tending to become more peaceful (the IRA and other paramilitary militias have stopped the violence and are now proceeding through diplomatic channels). The streets of Belfast are now calmer, safer and more secure with the presence of CCTV cameras and police officers.
Forget the clichés of a once “dangerous” city. Belfast has now become a warm, dynamic and friendly city, where life is good!
You will discover a joyful city, where art, culture, history and a taste for good things coexist with passion. Not to mention its close link with the History of the Titanic: Belfast is the city that built the liner! On this occasion, don’t miss the very recent “Titanic Belfast Experience”, a museum entirely dedicated to the ship that unfortunately sank in 1912.
You will then be able to explore the city further by discovering its murals, its town centre, its magnificent Town Hall, its Botanical Gardens, and then go to Cave Hill to enjoy the view and visit the Belfast Castle.
For lovers of good food, don’t hesitate to push the door of the city’s establishments. You will discover a traditional cuisine in full revival, carried by world-renowned chefs!