Busy forging a new reputation after the troubled decades of the past, Belfast is a thriving city with a vibrant energy and ambitious regeneration plans. With peace has come prosperity but beyond the glittering new attractions the divides are still apparent with communities still largely segregated and political murals adorning the gable ends of many city terraces.
This enduring divide, its artistic representations and the very human stories behind the city's troubled past are revealed on a black cab tour when a local taxi driver will take you through the most notorious parts of the city and help throw light on the complex relationships between fractious communities.
Your black cab guide will collect you from your hotel and take you on a private historical and political tour of Belfast. As you drive through the streets you’ll learn about the city’s troubled past and how the divisions between Republicans and Loyalists escalated in the late 20th century in a series of bombings, attacks and counter-attacks that dominated the news at the time.
You’ll drive through both Republican and Loyalist residential areas and see the most interesting political murals that commemorate particularly memorable clashes, the heroes on either side of the divide, or the community's hopes for the future.
With brightly painted curbs, flags and memorials it's not difficult to guess which part of the city you are in but there are significant differences in the way the two communities have chosen to represent themselves in artistic ways.
Your guide will be able to answer any questions you have about the murals, the city's complex history, the current situation and the effort to both forge and maintain peace in the area.
You'll also get to visit a section of the so-called ‘Peace Walls’, the permanent barriers which divide the city along sectarian lines. Although the walls have open gates, at times of unrest they are sealed to segregate the two communities and control disturbances.
This is a fascinating tour which gives a good overview of both sides of the history of the Troubles, introducing you to parts of the city which you might otherwise miss, throwing light on a very complex situation and explaining how past troubles have translated into modern times.
The tour lasts around two hours and at the end your guide will drive you back to your hotel or can drop you off in the heart of the city, if you prefer.