If you read up on some history about this place, you may know that there has been religious conflict here for centuries. The Protestants and Catholics have deep rooted problems which is getting better, but still exists between some people in the two religious groups. July 12th is a Protestant holiday that celebrates the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 where Protestant King William of the Orange Order won over Catholic King James II. Today, people celebrate with parades and bonfires, but a big problem with the bonfires is that they truly aren't very peaceful. These bonfires are massive and burn all night into the next morning, and many burn the Irish tricolor flag on top as a sign of dominance. Neither Catholics or Protestants try to keep the peace more than the other and many are still bitter over something that happened way before their time. So when you look through these photos, there are a lot of Union Jack flags and huge bonfires simply because of the time I was there. Murals also cover walls and buildings everywhere in the cities which I also tried to take pictures of.
These are just some of the bonfires in Belfast during July 12th.
This clock is actually not standing straight up, but is slanted to one side, so it's like Belfast's own Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Belfast Castle
If you didn't know, Belfast has its very own castle with a lovely garden and view of the city. We were lucky enough that the guard let us in to see it all because there was a wedding taking place a little after we arrived. People are allowed in the castle unless there is an event, and they have their own shop inside. You can also take a hike up the mountain next to the castle which is supposed to have a crazy beautiful view.
This lovely city is important for many reasons, but mainly because of two. The first being that, as you may have noticed, it has two names. And yes, it really is both of those names. This is because of territory being owned by both Protestants and Catholics over the years and it's name changing from Derry by the Catholics to Londonderry by the Protestants. In an attempt to keep the peace, it's officially now both names together, but a decent way to tell what religion the person you're talking to is, is by which name they call it (unless you're my friend Megan who calls it Derry because it's shorter and less of a mouthful to say). The second reason it's important is because of the wall that surrounds it. It's the last walled city in all of Europe which is pretty cool of you ask me. Of course, the city has expanded and has more people living outside the wall now a days too, but all the walls are still up around the original outline of the city.
Now the last place I'm going to talk about is in a whole different country (but it's only 3 hours away from Belfast), Ireland! I didn't take a lot of pictures here around town because it's a lot of shops and street performers which makes it hard to snap many pictures. But I did, however, take pictures at the famous mall in Dublin and my favorite place on earth, St. Stephen's Green.
I hope you all enjoyed my second travel blog on Northern Ireland and a little bit of the Republic. And I'll talk to you in my next blog! Have a great week!