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Best of Northern Ireland: Historic Belfast

History buffs have three new reasons to visit Belfast this summer.

HMS Caroline, one of the world’s most historically significant war ships, is set to reopen to the public in July following conservation work.

Moored in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, the state-of-the-art floating World War I museum is the only survivor of the Battle of Jutland, considered the greatest maritime battle ever fought.

The ship is now a beautifully restored treasure trove of maritime history – and it’s like the crew only left yesterday.

Visitors can soak up her original features on the bridge, living quarters and engine rooms, then eat and drink in the First Rates Mess Café.

Maritime lovers should also revisit nearby Titanic Belfast, where extremely rare artefacts connected to RMS Titanic’s launch have been unveiled.

Lord Pirrie’s 18 ct gold pocket watch, two original launch day tickets and a broken rivet from RMS Olympic have been added to Titanic Belfast’s galleries. Each one is very special due to their intimate connection to Titanic’s construction and launch in Belfast.

According to auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Sons, the watch was likely worn by Lord Pirrie at the launch of the ship. And one of the launch tickets still with its perforated stub (as Captain Alexander Matier could not attend the event) is said to one of the most desirable launch tickets in existence and believed to be the only one of its calibre.

Belfast City Hall.

Over in Belfast city centre a new permanent exhibition has opened at City Hall to tell the Belfast story, from its humble beginnings as a hamlet by the River Farset, to the vibrant city it is today.

Sixteen separate rooms have been refurbished and re-tasked to tell the stories of the civic building, Belfast’s Lord Mayors, the people of Belfast and the industries that shaped the city.

It covers historical events from both world wars to the United Irish rebellion and the Home Rule crisis.

To add to your City Hall experience, book a free guided tour of the building with one of the experienced guides.

If you would like to enjoy a short break in Belfast, there is a wide range of excellent accommodation available across the area ranging from luxurious hotels, to B&Bs full of character and charm, and self-catering options as a home from home. Visit to plan your break.

Nearby attractions

Linen Hall Library

Linen Hall Library.

Founded in 1788, it is the oldest library in Belfast and the last subscribing library in Ireland. It is renowned for its Irish and Local Studies Collections, ranging from Early Belfast and

Ulster printed books to the 250,000 items in the Northern Ireland Political Collection, the definitive archive of the recent troubles.

Titanic's Dock and Pump-House

Titanic's Dock and Pump-House.

Walk in the footsteps of the men who fitted out RMS Titanic in the Thompson’s dry dock. Adjacent is the perfectly preserved Edwardian pump-house, a remnant of Belfast’s engineering brilliance. Self-guided and private tours will take you through the amazing maritime history.

The Old Inn

Situated in Crawfordsburn, on the edge of Belfast, The Old Inn is a historic hostelry that has been standing in its present form since 1614. It still retains elements of its connections with Ireland’s early Christian heritage as well as a strong 17th-century literary and cultural history, which has included being patronised by the likes of Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens and C. S. Lewis.

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