Both Bethann and I had been told by several people that Belfast is a must-see on the British isles. Despite us being tired from celebrating New Years the night before, we decided to go on a day trip to Belfast on January 1st. The bus ride from Dublin took just over two hours, and since we didn’t leave till 12 PM, we only had about four hours to explore Belfast.
Belfast, which is the capital of Northern Ireland, is a very charming city and deserves much more than just four hours of sightseeing, but the weather was terrible that day; it was wet, windy and cold, and the sun set early at 4 PM, but we did manage to see some of the highlights in and around the city center.
The bus took us to the Europa Bus Station, located a few streets from the City Hall, where we started our sightseeing tour. The City Hall was a surprise to both of us, as city halls are generally quite insignificant, but this one in Belfast is beautiful and definitely worth seeing. The City Hall was built in 1906 from Portland stone in Baroque Revival style.
Our route then took us past the Albert Memorial Clock from 1869, and the first thing we noticed was how it’s leaning. It looks like a mixture between Big Ben and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I later read that the clock had a multi-million pound restoration in 2002 to halt the lean caused by the elements and traffic, but someone obviously didn’t do their job properly. It’s a beautiful landmark nonetheless, and now I can – almost – say that I’ve been to Pisa!
On the way to the next sight on our map – St. Anne’s Cathedral -, we passed several quaint streets in the Cathedral Quarter with cobblestones, Christmas lights, atmospheric pubs and impressive wall paintings. This area was my favourite in all of Belfast and I can imagine how lovely it must be in nice weather.
St. Anne’s Cathedral from 1904 is actually not a cathedral, as it doesn’t house the seat of a bishop, but it’s still titled as such. Unfortunately, the cathedral was closed, but the exterior was worth studying. It’s very unusual in the sense that it doesn’t look like any typical cathedral or even a typical church. It has completely it’s own look, which makes it unique and interesting to look at.
By the time we had finished studying and photographing the cathedral, it was getting dark, so we decided to head back to the bus station. On the way back, we saw several beautiful churches, but one really had us stunned. The St. Patrick’s Church in Gothic Revival style from 1877 was the only open church that we had come across all day, and since we both enjoy the peacefulness of churches, we decided to go inside and explore it for a while. The church smelled wonderful, like flowers and scented candles. Churches generally never fail to amaze me, but this one had something unique about it. It’s a small-ish and rather unknown church, which made it even more special. We could’ve spent all evening there, but unfortunately, we had to get back to the station at some point.
We walked past the City Hall once again, but we couldn’t recognize it to begin with. The City Hall was covered in lights, changing colours that created a beautiful rainbow light. Although Christmas is over, there were “Merry Christmas” signs on it and all over the street leading up to it. But who doesn’t enjoy a little Christmas spirit in January anyways?
So despite the awful weather, I feel like we made the most of our short time and got to experience the city and see most of the important sights. We both really enjoyed Belfast and agree that it’s a must-see place. I hope to come back one day (in any other season than winter) and explore the city thoroughly.