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Belfast, Great Britain City Info
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Nestled beside the River Lagan and Belfast Lough and ringed by gentle hills, Belfast occupies an idyllic setting. With a determination to move ever forward in a direction of peace and harmony, this modern, bustling city greets visitors warmly.

For two decades, news of Belfast was news about "the Troubles" until the 1994 cease-fire. Since then, this capital city with a population of 300,000 has turned around completely. It has benefited from major hotel and business investment, harborfront gentrification, the opening of a world renowned performing arts center, and a rediscovery of the many beautiful parks and quiet river walks that make Belfast a perfect place to visit.

Belfast is easy to explore on foot. It takes about an hour to walk from one end of town to the other.

The heart of downtown Belfast sits beside the west bank of the River Lagan, centered upon Donegall Square, which holds the magnificent city hall. All roads radiate out from there. Donegall Place, which extends north from the square, leads to Royal Avenue, a prime shopping district. Bedford Street, extends south from the square, and becomes Dublin Road, which, in turn, leads to the quietly dignified Queen's University. Near the University are the Botanic Gardens, fine 19th-century buildings, and many excellent pubs and restaurants.

North of this area, between Shaftesbury Square and Howard Street, is the Golden Mile, with hotels, major civic and office buildings, and some restaurants, cafés, and stores. City Hall marks the northern boundary of the Golden Mile and the southern end of the pedestrian-only central district, which extends from Donegall Square north almost to St. Anne's Cathedral. This is the center of old Belfast, and still a bustling place where both locals and visitors shop, chat in cafés, and go pubbing. Behind St. Anne's is the Cathedral Quarter, a maze of cobbled streets that resembles a combination of Temple Bar in Dublin and the Left Bank in Paris.

The city's architecture is rich in Victorian and Edwardian buildings with elaborate sculptures over the doors and windows. Some of Belfast's grandest buildings are on the banks of Waring Street. The Ulster Bank, dating from 1860, has an interior like a Venetian palace, and the Northern Bank, dating from 1769, was originally a market house.

With its large port, Belfast gained its reputation originally as an industrial city,. Major industries once flourishing there ranged from linen production to rope making and shipbuilding. The Titanic was built in Belfast port, and today the world's largest dry dock is there.

Belfast's main theatre spaces include the magnificent late-Victorian Grand Opera House, which is complemented by the new 2,000-seat Waterfront Hall. The Hall, which opened in 1997, has shown itself capable of hosting a variety of international shows from theatre to large-scale opera. Belfast is home also to the only repertory company in the region

The newest creative industry in Northern Ireland over the last ten years has been film. In partnership with the Northern Ireland Film Commission and with the co-operation of the BBC and Ulster Television, the Arts Council's Lottery Fund has been able to inject vital new financial backing into a burgeoning sector of the arts.

Nightlife is lively with the accompaniment of traditional Irish music as well as folk music, jazz and blues. Sports fans can enjoy rugby , hurling, tennis and football matches. In winter there is ice skating at the Ice bowl on Old Dundonald Road, and in summer, swimming and watersports at Water Wonderland.

Tours from Belfast take the visitor into the richness of the past. One day tours include the 87 mile drive around Strangford Lough through fishing villages and ancient towns, past wildlife preserves, monasteries, castles, and exquisite gardens.

With its friendly people, fine entertainment, outstanding museums, and stunning natural beauty, Belfast provides the traveller with warmth, humor, and charm that, once experienced ,can never be forgotten.

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