May 19, 2010

Londonderry or the Maiden City

Everyone who has read about the years of violence during the Troubles in Northern Ireland has heard about Bloody Sunday in Londonderry.  It’s when twenty-seven civil rights protesters were shot by the British Army Parachute Regiment during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march on the 30th of January 1972.

But Londonderry is an interesting city to visit not only for that. The 16th Century walls which surround the city are among the oldest and the best preserved citadel walls in Europe. They were built during the period 1613-1618 by "the honorable Irish Society" and form a walkway around the inner city. They provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town with its Renaissance style. Historic buildings within the walls include the 1633 Gothic cathedral of St Columbus, the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall and the courthouse. It is one of the few cities in Europe that never saw its fortifications breached, including during several sieges like one in 1689 which lasted 105 days, hence the city's nickname, The Maiden City.

Take a walk around the "Free Derry" corner between the Bogside and the western side of the old city walls. Stop and look at the political murals made by local artists during the 90's, depicting the key events in the harsh conflict haunting Northern Ireland. In the same area, the Free Derry monument, Free Derry Museum, and Bloody Sunday memorial are also located.

To get there, car hire Ireland is the best option. From Belfast, take the M2 or the main road (A6) to Derry (signposted as Londonderry) via Dungiven or the scenic drive along the Antrim Coast, passing the Giant's Causeway.

No comments: