6 June 2017:
Belfast, Northern Ireland:
The Titanic City

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, which—like it or not for some residents—is part of the United Kingdom.

A tenuous peace has taken root in the past two decades, with some level of power-sharing between the two sides.

In modern times, Belfast was a center for two major industries: linen (which is the source of one of the city’s nicknames, Linenopolis), and shipbuilding.

The main yard, Harland and Wolff, built a ship you may have heard of: the RMS Titanic.

The Harland and Wolff shipyard is now the location of the world’s largest dry dock, where the giant cranes Samson and Goliath stand out against Belfast’s skyline.

Most of its work now involves support for offshore wind and oil platforms.

But in the early 20th century, this was the biggest and most productive shipyard in the world, and Belfast was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

Harland and Wolff became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing as many as 35,000 workers.

Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland.

My view of history is that it is driven by economics.

And the relative success of Belfast as an industrial center was one reason why Unionists held on to the link to Great Britain, at least at first.

The flashiest modern attraction is Titanic Belfast, which opened in 2012 to coincide with the centenary of the incomplete maiden voyage of the luxury liner Titanic.

The angular metallic structure was intended, according to its designers, to evoke the image of ship.

It stands 126 feet (38 meters) high, the same height as Titanic’s hull.

Locals have already applied their own nickname: The Iceberg.

We went for a long walk across the river to the former shipyards and the Titanic Museum, which also includes in a nearby drydock the last remaining White Star Line vessel: the tender Nomadic, constructed alongside her much larger sister to be dispatched to Cherbourg to carry guests from shore to the ship at anchor. Nomadic performed that task just once…and then was reassigned after Titanic sank.

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