By Melissa Rossi
EXCERPTED FROM THE PRINT EDITION
I had expected Belfast to be a paranoid city, filled with bombs, guns, abandoned
briefcases, and forgotten grocery bags. I expected frightened glances behind the back, and tough-talking Irishmen quick to break into a brawl. I assumed that tensions would run high, the level of culture would be low, that Catholics and Protestants wouldn’t walk on the same side of the street. Nobody told me that Belfast, best known for IRA bombings, had become so stylish and sophisticated since the 1998 signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Walking down the Golden Mile that unrolls from Queen’s University—site of a November art and theater festival that’s one of Europe’s grandest—to the turquoise-tinged domes of downtown, I discover a civilized, cheerful Belfast with a thriving culture scene—ranging from botanical gardens, theater, and opera to nautical museums and castles.
Get the complete story in the September 1999 issue of TRAVELER.