Northern Ireland is a beautiful country with a rich history. Any student would enjoy spending some time there, and I have always been interested in visiting Belfast. The city is incredible and, if you ask me, it hosts hundreds of historical spots which make it a very special place to visit.
A bit of history
Belfast is well known as a place for protesters to air out their views, whether it’s about national issues or social issues affecting the city. Because of this, it has been labeled a dangerous town. This is why most people may not take some time to visit it while in Northern Ireland. However, if you look past the struggles and the past that it had and focus on how the city has dealt with these issues to date, there is some unique beauty that anyone who cares to find out wouldn’t miss.
In early 2016, a friend asked me to visit Belfast with her, and I said "yes!" We booked an apartment through Booking and wanted to find Belfast events worth attending. Easy job. I had a local friend who would act as our guide around the city and in all of the important places that we wanted to visit before the day ended. On our way to Belfast, it was hard not to notice the beautiful green scenery that looked like it was pulled right out of a fairytale.
We checked in at Europa hotel which has a reputation for being the most affected hotel in the past due to conflicts between some parties. However, it has been renovated into a beautiful hotel. ‘The troubles’ was a period when there was a conflict between the Nationalists and the Unionists in the 20th century. Belfast has come a long way from there; however, there are still feelings of mistrusts especially between the Protestants and the Catholics.
Being in Belfast didn’t feel dangerous at all, it was a calm, and relatively busy city and the locals went around their business to earn a living. However, it is difficult not to notice the many reminders of where the people came from, such as fences in certain areas to keep apart the different groups of people. This means that as much as it was a free town, there are certain areas that some people couldn’t go, which came as a surprise to me. It felt a bit colonial to me and in some way it took away the beauty that one should see in the city.
Throughout Belfast, there was something new to learn about, such as the Belfast City Council. It is home to the Northern Ireland assembly. Buildings in Belfast come in different designs and sizes, and I couldn’t help but marvel at the amount of details in some, such as the City Hall and Queen’s University Belfast. Through these buildings, one can feel and see how much the city has grown from what it used to be creating a peaceful and calming effect that the rainbow brings after a storm.
One of the must-visit places - if you ever find yourself in Belfast - are the Peace Walls. These are long walls that are set aside by the government for anyone who visits the place and would like to leave a message of peace. It can be seen as an artistic piece of art or just a simple message of love. The walls are repainted once a year to give an opportunity for more people to write their messages, and I made sure not to pass on this opportunity.
Belfast, just like any other large city in the world, is known for a wide range of events throughout the year. I had the chance to attend the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival which is an annual event featuring artist performance from artists all over the world. It was refreshing to experience the other, more fun side of the city.
A trip to Belfast is a very exciting and eye-opening experience that anyone would enjoy. I assure you it will be an experience of a lifetime just as it was for me.