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Belfast, the largest city in Northern Ireland, is known as the City of Murals. Vibrant murals are painted on the outside walls of buildings throughout the city. They provide visitors a visual political commentary depicting both the City's troubled history and its current attempts to end the divisiveness that has characterized Belfast for generations.
The murals reflect the political and religious allegiances of the people living in Belfast's neighborhoods. Some depict events during the 'Troubles', while others honor specific people. On one side stands the unionists -- those who want Northern Ireland to remain part of Great Britain and are generally Protestant. Opposing them are the nationalists-- those who would like Northern Ireland to unite with the Republic of Ireland (the independent nation that makes up the southern part of the island) and are mostly Catholic.
Belfast's other attractions
Belfast offers more than murals. Visitors will enjoy:
Today there is hope for reconciling the two sides. Community leaders are attempting to project a more positive, inclusive, and non-violent image of the city. They are doing this by painting over many murals that glorify violence and by commissioning new murals that are non-political, non-sectarian and positive. One of them shows the DeLorean car from the "Back to the Future" movies (DeLoreans were built in Belfast). Another depicts two characters from C.S. Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (the author was born and raised there).
The murals of Belfast are some of the most beautiful and interesting features of this city. Old or new, the murals show how art can help document the past and shape the future. No visit to Belfast is complete without a walking or cab tour to see the murals up close.
Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff