Green Island

Ireland

Ireland (or Éire) is a wonderful island in the North of central Europe. It has beautiful landscapes, real natural highlights (like the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher) and many, many sheep. The capital Dublin has a high density of interesting places, but in 2020 also Galway became a centre of attraction as the European Capital of Culture. But Ireland is also interesting in its history and the division into the mainly Catholic Republic of Ireland and the Protestant Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom.

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Irish

Airport, Dublin

Official languages of Ireland are Irish and English. If you travel on the island you don’t need to learn Irish, everybody will be able to talk to you in English (but it is always nice to know some words!). Every now and then you will probably hear somebody speaking Irish and most signs a bilingual. I didn’t experience any real problems because of that – only when I wanted to go by DART to Howth I was surprised that the destination of the train was Binn Éadair and I needed to get the clue that this is just another name for the same location.

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Clock tower

Albert memorial clock tower, Belfast

Clock towers are famous in different cultures and religions. I saw them on the Balkans as a result for the former Osman or Islamic rule. But we all know the Elizabeth tower in London with the famous bell Big Ben within. Another good example is the Albert memorial clock tower in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was finished in 1869 and it commemorates Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the husband of Queen Victoria. It is an absolute town’s landmark of Belfast.

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St. Anne‘s cathedral

St. Anne's cathedral, Belfast

While walking through the streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland, you might come across a quite unusual church building: the Belfast cathedral or St. Anne’s cathedral. It is the seat of two bishops and the foundation stone was laid in 1899. Different parts of the church are memorials for soldiers like the West being dedicated to those Irish who fought in World War I. That feels a bit odd or uncommon. And the church contains two special features: a giant Celtic cross on the outside that attracted my attention and a 40-metre high spire made of stainless steel – the Spire of Hope.

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City hall

City hall, Belfast

One of the most impressive buildings in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is the ancient city hall (Halla na Cathrach Bhéal Feirste). It was built between 1896 and 1906 under supervision of the architect Alfred Brumwell Thomas. It is a beautiful building in baroque revival style and because of its 53 meters high, green cupola you can see it already from far away. Inside you’ll find a lot of marble, some statues and especially beautiful glass windows.

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The Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland

The most photographed trees of Northern Ireland can be found in Ballymoney: an alley of serpentine beeches along a road. Once there where 150 of them, now there are only 90 left. The branches of the trees wind like serpents into the sky and form a very atmospheric tunnel. They were planted in 1775 to decorate the road to a newly built estate. It is said that a ghost called the ‘grey lady’ is living next to them. Thye are called the Dark Hedges and became massively famous when they were shown in the TV series Game of Thrones.

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Iron islands

Ballintoy harbour, Northern Ireland

The Iron islands are a kingdom within the TV series Game of Thrones. The people living there are seafaring and calling themselves the ironborn. Rulers of that fictive region is the House Greyjoy and kings are made by drowning them in the water of the sea. They worship the Drowned God and their slogan is ‘What is dead may never die‘. Scenes for the TV series were mostly shot in Ballintoy harbour in Northern Ireland. It is a small ancient harbour underneath some houses on the coast.

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Giant‘s causeway

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

The Giant’s causeway is one of the natural highlights of Northern Ireland. 40,000 steles of basalt directly at the shore, surrounded by a wonderful landscape. Since 1986 this place is a UNESCO world heritage site. After arriving at the visitor’s centre you can take a shuttle bus to the steles or walk on two different (a long and a short) routes through this place. It is absolutely worth also to include the longer path as it includes additional volcanic structures called the giant’s organ and shepherd’s steps from which you have great views on the area from up above. But the highlight is, of course, to climb on the hexagonal structures close to the sea.

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Harrenhal

Dunluce castle, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

In Game of Thrones the castle Harrenhal is the biggest fortress ever built – but it was destroyed by a dragon of Aegon. Therefore it is mostly shown as a giant ruin on the TV series. How to digitally create such a place? The moviemakers decided to take Dunluce castle (Dún Lios means ‘strong fortress‘) in Northern Ireland as their blueprint. It is a ruin standing next to the shore. There were no scenes filmed directly at the castle but the castle was scanned and reproduced digitally.

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