I really fell in love with Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. The city might have a weird atmosphere because of its turbulent past, but at the same time it is modern, dynamic, down-to-earth and pretty. Belfast is also much less touristy than other European capitals, making it still a well-kept secret (and I love places that are not too touristy!).
The old Belfast shipyard, however, has undergone a massive makeover in the past years and is attracting more and more international visitors. And for good reason! It is at this shipyard that was built the mythical Titanic, probably the most infamous ship in the world.
And central point of the revamped neighborhood: the Titanic Belfast, a large interactive museum that opened five years ago.
To visit Titanic Belfast is to dive into the past of the city. The museum explores the days when Belfast was recognized as the shipbuilding capital of the world and where the Harland and Wolff shipyard employed tens of thousands of people. Of course, the museum is focusing particularly on the construction of the gigantic Titanic, its historical importance and its sad end.
From the upper floors of the museum, you can see where the Titanic was moored, which gives an idea of how big it was.
Titanic Belfast is really well done, interactive and interesting. But it is also extremely popular and therefore rather busy. Almost too busy to my liking.
If you do not want to face the crowds, the quietest SS Nomadic also allows for a foray into the world of Titanic. The SS Nomadic is the only surviving tender of the White Star Line. It was used to transport passengers from the harbour of Cherbourg, France, to the ocean liners like Titanic and Olympic which were too big to dock at the harbour. The SS Nomadic has therefore transported passengers to the Titanic for their last journey.
After serving briefly in England during the Second World War, the SS Nomadic was withdrawn from service in 1968 and sold to an individual who transformed it into a restaurant on the Seine in Paris. In the 90s, the ship was abandoned and destined for scrap, before being eventually saved and transported to Belfast where it became a museum.
The SS Nomadic was restored to give it the appearance it had when it transported passengers to the Titanic. Some parts of the ship, such as the stairs and the bar, are original. It is impressive to think that some passengers were on board of the SS Nomadic before making their last trip on the Titanic. The SS Nomadic adds a tangible side to the story explored at the nearby museum.
Entry on the SS Nomadic is free if you have purchased a ticket for the Titanic Belfast. And the visit of the ship is a nice complement to the museum.
If you’re in the area, do not miss the Titanic Studios, where a large part of the Games of Thrones series is shot, and the Samson and Goliath cranes, emblems of Belfast and some of the highest in the world.