, would undoubtedly get the title of the most controversial city in Europe. Although, it is difficult to name the reasons at once. In order to understand Belfast, you must visit and deeply feel this city.
Everything seems to be on the verge of opposites there. It is difficult to explain in words its open-mindedness and conservativism, its pure English stiffness and absolute Irish disorderliness, its freedom of choice and the lack of tolerance at the same time, at last, its cold north wind and a warm breath of the sea.
I stayed there for three days. I walked around its streets, visited the flea market, drank beer in the Irish pub, talked with local immigrants, bought Irish whiskey. And I even fell in love with it. There's something about it that couldn't have left me indifferent to local pleasures and local problems.
On the way from Dublin to Belfast, it is now impossible to determine where Ireland ends and British territory begins. Everything that reminds of this invisible boundary has long been removed, to not irritate the local nationalists. Surprisingly, Britain and Ireland have long been included in the common space of the European Union, but nevertheless, religious and national hatred is not gone. And it is unlikely going to disappear...
My old friend hosted us in a typical English two-storey building of red brick. The Protestant district began just outside the back yard of this house, which was separated by a high fence from the Catholic district. This precaution protects the furious neighbors from throwing stones and flammable liquids to each other through the windows and on the roof.
We took a walk around the neighborhood and even looked at the Protestants district (though we were strongly advised not to do that). Most immigrants are Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian and they traditionally settle in Catholic neighborhoods. And they even do not try to walk through the Protestant neighborhoods.
I saw entire neighborhoods of abandoned houses with broken glass windows and doors, in front of which the same new houses were built. The reason was simple: "It's a Protestant home, and Catholics build their homes on the opposite side!". Generally, there's a great number of fences, gates, and deadlocks in the city. Even the local police station looks like a real fortress.
The very center of Belfast does not please the visitors too much with the abundance of architectural delights. Bombings of the World War II have almost completely wiped the city off the world's map. But the restored streets still have its unique charm.
The world-famous murals - giant graffiti on political topics are one of the main local attractions.
, renders the call to the Irish patriots. British power is unwavering in these images!
Not far from the City Hall, there's a street (Great Victoria Street) and a square named after Queen Victoria. By the way, there is also a huge shopping mall (Victoria Square Shopping Centre) and an observation deck. It offers a perfect view of the city port with lots of shipyards and lifting cranes.
Somewhere there is another major attraction of Belfast - the shipyard where the legendary "Titanic" was built. Close to the shipyards, there's a museum, its shape resembles the ship.
Not far from the port, we visited another authentic symbol of this city - a huge monument in the form of a codfish (Bigfish).
When visiting Belfast, you should go to at least one of the traditional Irish pubs, which there are plenty of in the city. However, we were warned by the locals that: "The pub is not a suitable place for conversations about politics, religion, war or independence". People come there to drink beer and have fun.