Where the Titanic was built
Waiting to be enjoyed on an MSC Northern Europe cruise excursion, Belfast has a pace and bustle you’ll find nowhere else in Northern Ireland.
In appearance Belfast closely resembles Liverpool, Glasgow or any other industrial port across the water, and, similarly, its largely defunct docklands – in which, famously, the Titanic was built – are undergoing massive redevelopment.
Though the city centre is still characterized by numerous elegant Victorian buildings, there’s been an enormous transformation here, too, not least in the greater prosperity of the shopping streets leading northwards from the hub of Belfast life, Donegall Square. In the city centre, you can concentrate on the glories resulting from the Industrial Revolution – grandiose architecture and magnificent Victorian pubs – and the rejuvenated area from Ann Street to Donegall Street now known as the Cathedral quarter.
To the south lies Queen’s University and the extensive collections of the Ulster Museum, set in the grounds of the Botanic Gardens. Ever since 1693, when the Royal Society first publicized it as one of the great wonders of the natural world, the Giant’s Causeway has been a major tourist attraction and it’s just waiting for you to visit it too on an MSC Northern Europe excursion.
Made up of an estimated 37,000 black basalt columns, each a polygon, it’s the result of a massive subterranean explosion, some sixty million years ago, that stretched from the Causeway to Rathlin and beyond to Islay, Staffa and Mull in Scotland.
A huge mass of molten basalt was spewed out onto the surface, which, on cooling, solidified into what are, essentially, crystals. Though the process was simple, it’s difficult, when confronted with the impressive regular geometry of the columns, to believe that their production was entirely natural.