Lying on the border of the counties of Antrim and Down in the province of Ulster, Belfast is at the head of Belfast Lough on the north-eastern coast of Ireland. The city of Belfast began in the early 17th century. The name Belfast is a corruption of the Gaelic words Beal Feirste meaning mouth of the sandy ford.
Belfast was little more than a castle guarding the Lagan crossing until 1603, when Sir Arthur Chichester received the land and built a fortified town on the mostly boggy ground. When Belfast became a city in 1888 its population had grown by 400% in fifty years, most people living in red-brick terraces and working in factories or shipyards. The late 19th century also saw the growth of civic splendor and academic as well as scientific achievement. The launch of the Titanic in 1911 represented the zenith of this development. Belfast was made capital of Northern Ireland in 1921, hit by the depression in the 1930s and “blitzed” by German bombers in the 1940s. After the Second World War Belfast never recovered and the start of the “Troubles” in 1969 made the city synonymous with civil unrest and terrorism. Between 1971 and 1991 a full third of the population fled the city! Only with the cessation of violence in the mid-1990s and under the impression of the Good Friday Agreement (1998) did Belfast start to recover.
City Hall, the splendid Grand Opera House, the historic Crown Liquor Saloon, the Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum are must-sees. Anyone interested in industrial or maritime heritage should have a look around Laganside, join a boat tour of the extensive harbor, admire the towering cranes of Harland & Wolff (“Samson” and “Goliath”) and the new Lagan Weir. Lovers of nature can explore the Cave Hill area high above the city or spend an enjoyable half day at Belfast Zoo nearby.
Within a couple of hours of Belfast, visitors can marvel at the Giant’s Causeway, walk the Mountains of Mourne, fish in Fermanagh or visit the many picturesque villages that abound – all perfect locations form which to discover the rest of Northern Ireland!
For full touring itinerary, click here: Causeway Coastal Route Escorted Tour Itinerary
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