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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Antrim County > Belfast City
Belfast (from the Irish: Béal Feirste meaning "Mouth of the (River) Farset") is the capital city of Northern Ireland and the seat of devolved government and legislative assembly in Northern Ireland. It is the largest urban area in the province of Ulster, and the second largest city on the island of Ireland. The City of Belfast has a population of 267,500, and lies at the heart of Metropolitan Belfast, which has a population of 483,418 Belfast was granted city status in 1888.

Historically, Belfast has been a centre for the Irish linen industry, tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding: the city's main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, which built the ill-fated RMS Titanic, propelled Belfast on to the global stage in the early 20th century as the largest and most productive shipyard in the world. Belfast played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, establishing its place as a global industrial centre until the latter half of the 20th century.

Today, Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as the arts, higher education and business, is a legal centre of the United Kingdom, and is the economic engine of Ulster. The city suffered greatly during the period of disruption, conflict, and destruction called the Troubles, but latterly has undergone a sustained period of calmness and substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast city centre has undergone considerable expansion and regeneration in recent years, with the newly developed Victoria Square area attracting international attention.

Belfast is partially composed of seven "quarters", each dedicated to reflect the history of the city. It was first said at the Ireland-US Council that Belfast was once a city of two halves, but is now a city of seven quarters. The historic heart of Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter, has also seen substantial regeneration in recent years, and is seen as a sign of the resurgence of the City's cultural heritage.

Belfast is served by two airports: Belfast International Airport to the north-west of the city, and George Best Belfast City Airport in the east of the city.

Belfast is also a major seaport, with commercial and industrial docks dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, including the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard.

Belfast is a constituent city of the Dublin-Belfast corridor with a population of 3million, comprising of half the total population of the island of Ireland.

History
The name, Belfast, is the anglicised version of the Irish Béal Feirste, which translates as "Mouth of the (River) Farset". This term refers to the sand bar that formed where the River Farset met the River Lagan at what is now Donegall Quay and flowed into Belfast Lough, which became the hub around which the city developed.

The site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The Giant's Ring, a 5000-year-old henge, is located near the city, and the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement of little importance during the Middle Ages. John de Courcy built a castle on what is now Castle Street in the city centre in the 12th century, but this was on a lesser scale and not as strategically important as Carrickfergus Castle to the north, which was built by de Courcy in 1177. The O'Neill clan had a presence in the area. In the 14th century the Clan Aedh Buidh, descendants of "Yellow" Hugh O'Neill built Grey Castle at Castlereagh, now in the east of the city. Conn O'Neill also owned land in the area, one remaining link being the Conn's Water river flowing through east Belfast.

Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester, which was initially settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster. (Belfast and County Antrim, however, did not form part of the Plantation scheme.) In 1791, the Society of United Irishmen was founded in Belfast, after Henry Joy McCracken and other prominent Presbyterians from the city invited Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell. to a meeting, after having read Tone's "Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland".

Belfast blossomed as a commercial and industrial centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and became Ireland's pre-eminent industrial city. Industries thrived, including linen, rope-making, tobacco, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, and at the end of the nineteenth century, Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland. The Harland and Wolff shipyards became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers.[10] Belfast was heavily bombed during World War II. In one raid, in 1941, German bombers killed around one thousand people and left tens of thousands homeless. Outside of London, this was the greatest loss of life in a night raid during the Blitz.


Attractions
Belfast's population is evenly split between its Protestant and Catholic residents. These two distinct vibrant cultural communities have both contributed significantly to the city's culture. Throughout the Troubles, Belfast artists continued to express themselves through poetry, art and music. In the period since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has begun a social, economic and cultural transformation giving it a growing international cultural reputation. In 2003, Belfast had an unsuccessful bid for the 2008 European Capital of Culture. The bid was run by an independent company, Imagine Belfast, who boasted that it would "make Belfast the meeting place of Europe's legends, where the meaning of history and belief find a home and a sanctuary from caricature, parody and oblivion." According to The Guardian the bid may have been undermined by the city's history and volatile politics.

In 2004-05, art and cultural events in Belfast were attended by 1.8 million people (400,000 more than the previous year). The same year, 80,000 people participated in culture and arts activities, twice as many as in 2003-04. A combination of relative peace, international investment and an active promotion of arts and culture is attracting more tourists to Belfast than ever before. In 2004-05, 5.9 million people visited Belfast, a 10% increase from the previous year, and spent UK£262.5 million.

The Ulster Orchestra, based in Belfast, is Northern Ireland's only full-time symphony orchestra and is well renowned in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1966, it has existed in its present form since 1981, when the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra was disbanded.[118] The music school of Queen's University is responsible for arranging a notable series of lunchtime and evening concerts, often given by renowned musicians which are usually given in The Harty Room at the university (University Square).

Musicians and bands who have written songs about or dedicated to Belfast: Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Simple Minds, Elton John, Katie Melua, Boney M, Paul Muldoon, Stiff Little Fingers, Nanci Griffith, Glenn Patterson, Orbital, James Taylor.

Further in Belfast the Oh Yeah Belfast Music Centre is located (Cathedral Quarter), a project founded to give young musicians and artists a place where they can share ideas and kick-start their music careers as chance to been supported and promoted by professional musicians of Northern Ireland's music-scene.


 
 
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Belfast City
In: Antrim
People: 645,500
Speak: English
Type: Hertiage City
GPS: -5.93, 54.597