The Best Monuments to Visit in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast’s prominent personalities have inspired many impressive monuments around the city | © Radharc Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Northern Ireland’s capital has seen a fascinating history, peppered with famous thinkers and builders, all artfully commemorated in Belfast’s monuments.
Northern Ireland’s capital and largest city is steeped in a rich culture and a tumultuous history. Belfast is known for great artists and authors as well as its mighty industrial heritage. The city boasts local luminaries such as CS Lewis and was the birthplace of the ill-fated Titanic. It’s no surprise that Belfast’s combination of thinkers and builders has inspired many impressive monuments to commemorate its great works, traditions and its fair share of tragedies. From the Titanic Monument Garden to the Monument of the Unknown Woman Worker, we guide you through a range of the best to visit in Belfast.
The Titanic Memorial Garden
© Realimage / Alamy Stock Photo
This most famous doomed ship has become synonymous with the scale and grandeur of Belfast’s shipbuilding tradition. The monument is a moving tribute, including 15 bronze plaques that are believed to comprise the first complete list of the 1,512 people who lost their lives when the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. The garden sits on the eastern side of Belfast City Hall. A walk through the beautiful square serves as a powerful reminder of the human tragedy of this storied ship.
Sat high on Knockagh Hill, on the northern fringes of Belfast, this towering obelisk commands a panoramic view of the great city and the whole bay. Finished in 1936, it was originally dedicated to those who fought and lost their lives in the First World War but after 1945 was then dedicated to those of both World Wars. Take the short trip north near the village of Greenisland in time for sunset to appreciate the monument and the dramatic views in the best light.
Albert Memorial Clock
© Craig Joiner Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Known locally as the Albert Clock, Belfast’s own leaning tower is cherished by locals for its ornate finish, especially after its full renovation and cleaning in 2002. It is dedicated to Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria), who died in 1861. You’ll find the clock tower on Queen’s Square, near the Lagan Weir. Although you can’t go inside, its blend of Italian and French architecture is a grand spectacle to behold from any angle. Place yourself right underneath to fully appreciate its slanted ascent.
Sheep on the Road
These bronze statues of a warming, familiar scene to anyone who has driven through the countryside of Ireland were created by Northern Irish sculptor Deborah Brown in 1991. You’ll find this shepherd perpetually ambling after his flock outside Waterfront Hall. In a sprawling industrial city, it’s a welcome reminder of the country’s ingrained agricultural traditions that are still a way of life for many Irish.
Monument to the Unknown Woman Worker
© J Orr / Alamy Stock Photo
This sculpture of two dignified and defiant working-class women almost didn’t happen at all, after the project was cancelled when the design was opposed by some at the City Council. However, it was resurrected by a private developer and has stood proudly on Great Victoria Street ever since. It’s an essential part of any cultural itinerary and a powerful nod to working women everywhere.
CS Lewis Square
Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
© David Hunter / Alamy Stock Photo
The acclaimed author of The Chronicles of Narnia, one of the most famous series of books in world literature, was a true local. Born in East Belfast, CS Lewis took inspiration from the magical Northern Irish countryside, in particular the Mountains of Mourne. This event space and public plaza features seven bronze statues of characters from the books. It sits beside the EastSide Visitor Centre and the Jack Coffee Bar (as the author was known to his friends), which is worth supping at.
These recommendations were updated on July 7, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.