Belfast Northern Ireland : City To Visit Before You Die

Belfast Northern Ireland : One of City To Visit Before You Die

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. Most of Belfast is in County Antrim, but parts of East and South Belfast are in County Down. It is on the flood plain of the River Lagan.

By population, it is the fourteenth largest city in the United Kingdom and second largest on the island of Ireland. It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly.

The city of Belfast has a population of 281,000 and lies at the heart of the Belfast urban area, which has a population of 579,276. The Larger Urban Zone, as defined by the European Union, has a total population 641,638. Belfast was granted city status in 1888.

Early Days

Historically, Belfast has been a centre for the Irish linen industry (earning the nickname “Linenopolis”), tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding: the city’s main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, which built the well-known RMS Titanic, propelled Belfast on to the global stage in the early 20th century as the biggest and most productive shipyard in the world.

Belfast played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, establishing its place as a global industrial centre until the latter half of the 20th century. Industrialisation and the inward migration it brought made Belfast, if briefly, the biggest city in Ireland at the turn of the 20th century and the city’s industrial and economic success was cited by Ulster unionist opponents of Home Rule as a reason why Ireland should shun devolution and later why Ulster in particular would fight to resist it.

Belfast Now

Today, Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as the arts, higher education and business, a legal centre, and is the economic engine of Northern Ireland. The city suffered greatly during the period of conflict called the Troubles, but latterly has undergone a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, and substantial economic and commercial growth.

Belfast city centre has undergone considerable expansion and regeneration in recent years, notably around Victoria Square. Belfast is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport in the city, and Belfast International Airport 15 miles (24 km) west of the city.

Belfast is also a major port, with commercial and industrial docks dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, including the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard. Belfast is a constituent city of the Dublin-Belfast corridor, which has a population of three million, or half the total population of the island of Ireland.

Place to Visit

Grand Opera House

belfast grand house

It was renamed the Palace of Varieties in 1904, although it reverted to its original name in 1909. Variety programmes dominated in the 1920s and 1930s and the theatre saw performances by Gracie Fields, Will Fyffe and Harry Lauder. It became a repertory theatre during World War II and at the celebrations to mark the end of the war, Eisenhower, Montgomery and Alanbrooke attended gala performances at the theatre.

The Grand Opera House was acquired by the Rank Organisation, which led to its use as a cinema between 1949 and 1972, after which it was almost demolished, only to open again in 1980.

Despite the onset of The Troubles, the theatre was listed in the 1970s and has been restored extensively since. The building had been damaged by bombs on several occasions usually when the nearby Europa Hotel had been targeted. It was very badly damaged by bomb blasts in 1991 and 1993. The theatre continued to thrive, however, hosting musicals, plays, pantomimes and live music.

The Grand Opera House is a theatre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed by the most prolific theatre architect of the period, Frank Matcham. It opened on 23 December 1895.

Opened: December 23, 1895
Phone: +44 28 9024 1919
Address: 2-4 Great Victoria St, Belfast, County Antrim BT2 7HR, United Kingdom
Architect: Frank Matcham

Waterfront Hall

watrfront hall

The Waterfront Hall is a multi-purpose facility, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed by local architects’ firm Robinson McIlwaine. Practice partner Peter McGukin was the project architect.

The hall is located in Lanyon Place, the flagship development of the Laganside Corporation. The development is named after the architect Charles Lanyon. Planning for the building began 1989, with the hall being completed in 1997 for the sum of £32 million. The main circular Auditorium seats 2,241 and is based on the Berlin Philharmonic Hall designed by Hans Scharoun.

However the flexible design of the Auditorium allows the stalls seating to be moved to create a larger arena. The smaller adjoining Studio seats 380. The dome of the building is coated in copper. This is so the exterior will eventually turn green and reflect the dome of Belfast City Hall and other Victorian buildings in the city centre. The building also contains bars and a restaurant.

History and background

Belfast Waterfront opened for business in 1997 and has played a key role in Belfast’s economic and social development since then.

The city is now recognised as a major European destination for conferencing, culture and business investment.

Waterfront Hall offer

An award-winning, purpose-built conference, arts and entertainment centre offering a variety of facilities including:

Main Auditorium
14 meeting rooms
gallery space
gift shop
two bars.
As well as hosting events, we serve local residents and provide community groups with access to our world-class facilities.

Waterfront Hall now employ 50 full-time employees and more than 100 casual members of staff.

To date, Waterfront Hall have:

welcomed more than 5.5 million visitors
hosted more than 2,400 national and international conferences
staged more than 3,800 arts and entertainment events
sold more than 3.5 million tickets
attracted more than 100,000 overseas conference delegates.

Opened: 1997
Phone: +44 28 9033 4400
Address: 2 Lanyon Pl, Belfast, Antrim BT1 3WH, United Kingdom
Architect: Peter McGukin

Belfast Castle


The original Belfast Castle, built in the late 12th century by the Normans, was located in the town itself, flanked by the modern day High Street, Castle Place and Donegall Place in what is now Belfast city centre.

This was the home of Sir Arthur Chichester, baron of Belfast, but was burned down in 1708, leaving only street names to mark the site. Rather than rebuild on the original site, the Chichesters decided to build a new residence in the city’s suburbs, today’s Belfast Castle emerging as a result.

The building that stands today was built from 1811–70 by the 3rd Marquess of Donegall. It was designed in the Scottish baronial style by Charles Lanyon and his son, of the architectural firm Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon. After Donegall’s death and the family’s financial demise, the 8th Earl of Shaftesbury completed the house.

It was his son, the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, who presented the castle to the City of Belfast in 1934. In 1978, Belfast City Council began a major refurbishment over a period of ten years at a cost of over two million pounds. The architect was the Hewitt and Haslam Partnership. The building officially re-opened to the public on 11 November 1988.

The castle boasts an antiques shop, a restaurant and visitors centre and it is a popular venue for conferences, private dining and wedding receptions.

Belfast Castle is set on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland in a prominent position 400 feet above sea level. Its location provides unobstructed views of the city of Belfast and Belfast Lough.

Opened: 1870
Address: Antrim Rd, Belfast, Antrim BT15 5GR, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 28 9077 6925
Architectural style: Scottish Baronial architecture
Architects: Charles Lanyon, John Lanyon

City Guide

Belfast Taxi: A Drive Through History, One Fare at a Time

belfast northern ireland

Author : Lee Henry, Publication Date: January 15, 2013

An entertaining exploration of the working lives of taxi drivers in Belfast. Based on interviews with over thirty taxi drivers from across the city, and told largely in their own words, Belfast Taxi tells the real-life stories of the Belfast taxi drivers who kept driving through the Troubles.


In Belfast Taxi writer Lee Henry has had the simple but enormously insightful idea of telling the real life story of the city through the experiences of the drivers who know it best. –Irish Voice

About the Author

Lee Henry is originally from Newcastle, County Down. He studied English Literature and History at Manchester Metropolitan University, and currently works as Web Editor of He lives with his wife in Belfast.

Things To Bring Home from Belfast Northern Ireland

Hand Made Tobacco Smoke Pipe

pipe Belfast Northern Ireland

The right amount of wood, or root and position the culaga to cut the height, width and length of the block which measure along the rings of the wood. The wood is selected ruthlessly with no cracked blocks, snags or other imperfections.

The rectangular blocks, marking the tenon the wooden part of the pipe between the head and mouthpiece determining the basic shape of the pipe.