On our second day we decided to visit the Titanic Quarter and walk the Maritime Mile. We began by catching the Glider into the City Centre, specifically to the City Hall. Belfast City Hall first opened its doors in August 1906 and is Belfast’s civic building. The photo below is not one of mine! Although we had very good weather during our stay, the sky wasn’t as blue when we were at the City Hall.
The lawns around the City Hall are filled with memorials to the history, people and events connected with the city. These include the Cenotaph built in memory of all those who died in the First World War and the Titanic Memorial Gardens which name all 1,512 victims of the disaster.
The statue of Queen Victoria was created by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It was unveiled by her son, King Edward VII in 1903. It is carved from Sicilian marble and stands 11 feet high.
I took this image of a disrespectful seagull perched on Queen Victoria’s head!
We then popped into the ‘Visit Belfast Welcome Centre’ to pick up some maps and other useful information we might need. In fact, we went in more than once and everyone was always extremely helpful. As well as free maps, guides etc, there is a rather lovely shop which isn’t full of tat!!
As we walked from the city centre towards the Titanic Quarter, we went through Thanksgiving Square. It is a public space based on Thanksgiving Square in Dallas, Texas and is home to the amazing sculpture you can see below.
There has been significant regeneration alongside the River Lagan, over the past decade. This is symbolised by the 19.5 metre sculpture towering over Queen’s Bridge, ‘The Beacon of Hope.’ The sculpture is a modern female figure created by Andy Scott.
I must say I thought the sculpture was incredible. I had already spotted it on the open top bus tour and I was thrilled to be able to have a close up view.
I was rather taken with these lights and their fish detail on the Queen’s Bridge. It was officially opened in 1849 by Queen Victoria.
As we continued our walk we came face-to-face with the ‘Big Fish’. This 10m salmon was commissioned in 1999 to celebrate the regeneration of the River Lagan and the historic importance of the site. It was created by John Kindness and has beautiful blue scales, which are made up of ceramic tiles describing different scenes from the city’s history. It is also known as the ‘Salmon of Knowledge’. Rumour has it that if you kiss the fish you will gain its wisdom. I decided to stay stupid!!
Of course, Belfast is well known for its ship building. It is the home of Harland & Wolff, once the greatest ship builders in the world. The city was where many famous ships were built and launched, including the Titanic. Today, the dockside offers a wealth of sights, attractions and opportunities for the tourist.
The Titanic Quarter is also home to Northern Ireland’s largest city-centre marina. The 85 berth marina is operated by Belfast Harbour and the marina offers easy access to Belfast Lough and the Irish Sea. You can see part of the marina below, along with the Titanic Belfast Visitor Centre to the left and, to the right, the two massive yellow cranes, known as Samson and Goliath. It does seem that wherever you go in Belfast, they dominate the skyline.
As we continued our walk we got closer to the Titanic Belfast Visitor Centre. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go inside, on this visit. However we did walk behind the Titanic Belfast building to look at the historic slipways where the Titanic was built and launched.
And here are Samson and Goliath:
Below is the SS Nomadic which we passed on our return walk. It is the last remaining White Star Line vessel. She was a tender built to transfer passengers and mail to and from RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic. She has been totally restored and can be visited, assuming you have time!
At this point Mr FF had to return to the hockey centre for a pre-match warm up while I continued exploring. By this time, I felt in need of a coffee and, by pure chance, found myself in the Dock Café. This has a very quirky interior and offers a range of coffees and cakes. Customers don’t pay for these, instead you donate whatever you think is appropriate. The Dock is run by friendly and helpful volunteers. If ever you find yourself in the Titanic Quarter, I would highly recommend a pit stop here!
Finally if you are a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan, you might enjoy these huge stained glass windows which show some of the most famous scenes from the series. There are actually six of these but I only managed to capture four. You can find out more here: These windows make up the Glass of Thrones walking trail.
I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. There is still more to come, including CS Lewis Square and Stormont!