Belfast – A City Divided by Peace Walls

The city of Belfast is a beautiful city with many great things to see and explore. The Titanic was built in this amazing city. However, if you ever visit the interface areas of Belfast, you will see that they are divided by peace walls.  Interface areas are areas where segregated Catholics (Nationalist) and Protestants (Unionist) residential areas meet. Peace walls were built to prevent violence between these two communities. We took two different tours that showed us the reality of the conflict that is still going in Northern Ireland. One of the tours was from the perspective of the Nationalist and the other one was of the Unionist.

Graffiti on the peace wall

Graffiti on the peace wall

Houses next to the peace wall

The houses next to the peace walls have metal fencing and barricades to protect them against pipe bombs, bricks or fireworks.

Peace Wall

This picture shows how more high walls and fences have been erected to keep Protestant and Catholic communities apart due to ongoing sectarian tension.

Nationalist Tour

The first tour that we took was on the Nationalist side of the interface area. The tour guide took us to a school where he showed us a wall with different bullet holes that the Unionist had fired. Since there was a church behind the school the Unionist would target the people coming out of church service. It was haunting to see the bullet holes in a school, were young children go to learn. Our tour guide also showed us different murals on the peace walls. On the murals people drew different things like civil rights movements and important leaders that have changed the world. I was surprised to see a mural of Hugo Chavez. I asked the tour guide why there was a mural of Cesar Chavez and he told me that it was because he fought for the civil rights of the native people of Venezuela. Since the Nationalist identify themselves as the native people of Ireland, they can relate to his causes. It was very intriguing to observe the different murals because they are a piece of art.

Unionist Tour

Our second tour started on the Shankill Road, which is a main road that runs through the predominantly Unionist area known as the Shankill. At the beginning of the tour we had to pass through a gate to go to the Unionist side. The guide explained to us that the gate is locked everyday at 7pm and they do not open until 7am in an attempt to avoid trouble between the two communities.

Gate to enter the Unionist interface area

Gates to enter the Unionist interface area

On our tour, the guide stopped by a plate and he explained to us why the plate had been put there. He told us the story of the Shankill Road Bombing, which occurred on October 23, 1993. It is one of the most notorious incidents that happened during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

DSC01076

All down the Shankill Road there were also murals that express different causes and memorials of incidents that happened during the Troubles.

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2 thoughts on “Belfast – A City Divided by Peace Walls

  1. Pingback: The Top Highlights of my Trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland | Find New Adventures

  2. Pingback: Top Things to Do in Belfast | Find New Adventures

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