The first Peace Walls were built in 1969 in response to Northern Ireland’s sectarian conflict. Initially intended as temporary barriers, the continuation of the Troubles led to the extension and reinforcement of the walls. Today, they’re political and philosophical murals and attract visitors looking for insight into this part of Irish history.
In recent years, the walls have become a top attraction thanks to their continued use and poignant murals. Visitors with limited time can tick off the landmark on a day tour that includes other regional highlights, such as the Giant’s Causeway. Those with more time, or hoping to learn more about the conflict, can benefit from a more immersive experience on a mural tour that provides first-hand insight into the division.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Troubles are recent history, and it’s important to respect that it affected many people in the city directly.
- The walls are uncovered, so be sure to bring an umbrella and coat in the rainier months.
- The walls are a must-do for historians and politics junkies.
How to Get There
The walls are dispersed across East and West Belfast, with murals spread out across them, so they’re generally impractical to explore by foot. Most tours offer a round-trip service from the city or beyond.
When to Get There
At the moment the walls are accessible throughout the year, but perhaps not for much longer. The Northern Ireland Executive is aiming to remove the walls by 2023—if you’re interested, visit sooner rather than later.
What were the Troubles?
The Troubles were a time of conflict and violence between sectarian groups and British state forces, mostly in Northern Ireland, between the 1960s and 1990s, causing thousands of deaths and injuries. The division was predominantly between loyalist and unionist Protestants, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, and republican and nationalist Catholics, who wanted Northern Ireland to be part of Ireland.