Belfast has a world-famous maritime history. As the home of Harland & Wolff, once the greatest ship builders in the world, the city was the birthplace of many iconic vessels including the renowned RMS Titanic. Today, the dockside offers plenty of sights, attractions and opportunities to delve into the history of the city. From award-winning exhibitions to historic docks, walk the Maritime Mile – developed by Maritime Belfast Trust – and uncover the stories of Belfast’s maritime past.
Heritage Room at Belfast Harbour
Start at the Port that Built the City exhibition in the Belfast Harbour offices in Corporation Square. This heritage space details Belfast’s emergence as a major port and its subsequent growth as an industrial hub. The exhibition includes a unique art collection, the ‘Titanic table’ and artefacts from the Harbour’s past. Then explore the rest of the surrounding Sailortown area; a dockside district home to the stunning St Joseph’s Church, the Dividers sculpture and Sinclair Seaman’s Church. (Please note, this exhibition is closed until further notice).
Walk to Donegall Quay to find Belfast’s iconic Big Fish; a 10m-long sculpture celebrating the regeneration of the River Lagan. The fish is made up of beautiful blue scales of ceramic tiles that depict different scenes from Belfast’s history.
From there, cross the Lagan Weir footbridge and follow the dockside trail to SS Nomadic. As the tender ship for RMS Titanic and as White Star Line’s last remaining vessel restored to her former glory, SS Nomadic is an original living relic of the city’s maritime history. Explore the four decks and experience first-hand what it was like to be a passenger boarding Titanic. Tickets can be bought as standalone passes or as part of the Titanic Experience pass at Titanic Belfast. (Please note, the indoor exhibition on board SS Nomadic is closed until further notice.)
Titanic Belfast, named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction in 2016, is located next to the original drawing offices and slipways, in the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912. It tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. (Please note the indoor exhibition will be closed until further notice).
Behind Titanic Belfast is the Titanic Slipways, where Titanic and Olympic stood before they were launched over 100 years ago. Now fully restored, the slipways offer an illuminated outline of both ships and a life-size plan of Titanic’s promenade deck. See where Titanic first touched the water in 1911 and enjoy stunning views of the Titanic Belfast building and surrounding shipyard.
The Great Light
Follow the path to The Great Light, one of the largest optics of its kind ever built in the world that is around 130 years old. At seven metres in height and weighing 10 tonnes, it produces one of the strongest lighthouse beams to ever shine. The light is a unique maritime heritage object with great significance to Belfast’s economic, maritime and industrial past.
HMS Caroline is a First World War-era ship now restored as a must-see floating museum with an amazing story to tell. The ship was the lone survivor of the Battle of Jutland in World War One, and on-board exhibitions detail the story of her time at war as well as the personal accounts of those that served on the ‘Carry’. (Please note the indoor exhibition at HMS Caroline will be closed until further notice).
Titanic Dock & Pumphouse
At the end of the trail you’ll find Titanic Dock and Pump House. Stand in the huge Thompson Dry Dock where Titanic sat on the night before her maiden voyage and walk in the footsteps of the shipyard’s workers in the pumphouse with original engineering that powered the dock.