Oh, wow! Titanic Belfast, the maritime museum dedicated to the famous ship that sank on April 15, 1912 is amazing. Located on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was designed and constructed, the beautiful museum does a fabulous job telling a tragic story.
We walked the thirty-minute route from our apartment to Titanic Quarter where the museum is located. About half way there we crossed the beautiful Lagan Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge.
Standing on Donegall Quay before we crossed the bridge, we could see two beautiful examples of the great public art in Belfast. Bigfish, the sculpture next to the bridge, tells a Belfast story on each of its scales and contains a time capsule of information, images and poetry of Belfast. Across the bridge we could see the shining Beacon of Hope, the 64-foot sculpture called “Nuala with the Hula” by locals.
Walking along the River Lagan, we arrived at the museum. Titanic Belfast is a dramatic building. Covered in 3,000 individual silver aluminum shards, it shimmers in the sunlight. The design replicates four 126-feet high pointed hulls, the same height as the Titanic’s hulls. The building was completed in time for the April 2012 centennial of the Titanic’s maiden voyage.
The museum masterfully guides visitors through the exhibits. Starting with the industrial and ship building strengths in 19th century Belfast, the exhibits detail the building, launching, maiden voyage, sinking and aftermath of the Titanic.
A panoramic film experience provides a look at each deck and an almost-real sensation of actually being on the Titanic.
I am so thankful we also took the Titanic Discovery tour in the afternoon. Many design elements of the building and grounds reflect some part of the Titanic story. Jonny, our guide, pointed out the significance of many of these features.
Located on the site of one of the former slipways, a memorial garden honors passengers who did not survive. Each of the four proportionally-sized grass plots represents first, second, and third-class passengers and crew. The wood between the grass plots proportionally represents the survivors in each category.
An outline of the Titanic is marked on the adjacent slipway where the Titanic was built and launched. I couldn’t resist having a Kate Winslet moment.
Benches depicting the dots and dashes of the Morse code distress message that was sent from the Titanic form a circle around the museum.
Looking down from the second floor we could see a tile map of the Titanic’s route and the countries where she docked or picked up passengers. Launched in Belfast, she picked up most of her passengers in Southampton, England. She then proceeded to Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland to pick up more passengers, crew and supplies before heading to New York.
Our great day got even better when we spent time with friends from Sarasota who now live in Belfast. Yvonne and Jean picked us up after our tour and we drove to Donaghadee for a little stroll, wonderful dinner and great conversation.
The restaurant where we ate is currently used as a setting for an Irish TV series.
After dinner we walked to the lovely little lighthouse.
Ah, another great day in Belfast.