Have you experienced the Titanic experience?
In under two years it has become Belfast's Number One visitor attraction, and it's no wonder...
Published 22/05/2014 | 00:00
The top of the six -storey building is exactly as high as the tip of Titanic when the transatlantic liner was completed at the Harland and Wolff yard a century ago.
This is just one of an infinite number of facts about the doomed liner that fascinates visitors.
The iconic five floor building of the Titanic Belfast is a the biggest Titanic exhibit in the world, and crosses the line between museum and high tech exhibit with interactive galleries that bring the visitor through the story of the Titanic and the city that built her.
The purposely designed building houses an interactive experience that takes 2-3 hours to go through and is entirely self guided, so you can journey at your own pace and focus on what ever it is that interests you.
This isn't a museum, however: it contains no artefacts. What it has is nine galleries telling the tale from rivets to requiem. The first four focus on the ship's construction, something Belfast is very proud of.
The exhibit is great for families and even involves a “Ship Yard Ride” through a simulated shipyard, from the laying of the keel upwards. Rollercoaster style cars hoist visitors up and around a life-size model of the rudder that made the ship's final, fatal turn.
Little visitors can move quickly through the shipbuilding part, which reverberates with the sound of rivets being hammered into the ship's bowe.
Voices of some survivors, recorded in the 1960s, recount that horrifying night.
You can also see recreations of the staterooms, and second and third-class cabins, although these are protected behind glass.
The final part of the exhibition comprises of footage of the wreck taken by Dr Robert Ballard, whose discovery of it in 1985 restarted Titanic fever.
Visitors can stand on a transparent floor and witness what's left of her, 3,784m below the waves.
The exhibit is located just outside the city in the Titanic Quarter where the ship was built in 1912. The area is saturated with the story of the ship and how it was built.
A visit to the nearby SS Nomadic, is a must. Located in the Titanic Centre, this tender to the Titanic and the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world has been restored to her original glory. A guided trip on board gives a real feel for over 100 years of maritime and social history. See photos of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton on the ship back in its glory day, and marvel at the cramped living quarters of the men who stoked the fires that fuelled the ships.
If soaking up all that history makes you work up an appetite, head to Coppi in the cathedral quarter. A concrete and industrial tiled affair and Belfast’s first cichetti / bacari, inspired by those found in Venice. Great atmosphere, but the menu and steaks are worthy of a trip in itself to experience. The night we ate there, we dined at a table beside cycling legend Stephen Roche, apt for a restaurant named after a man who won the Giro D'italia five times.
Where to stay
Belfast is so easy to get to, but to make a weekend of it, where better to stay than the city's landmark Europa Hotel? Bang in the heart of the centre, it features 272 rooms and a first floor piano bar, which is great for people watching. And with Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt all previous guests, you will never know who you will spot there.