That’s what Belfast is. Now, this may be true of all modern European and British cities, but Belfast is the one I know well, having walked her streets (we don’t have a car) for the past 4 years. (Actually, Belfast is the really the only one I know at all. Well, I’ve been to London twice. But I have never been on The Continent. That will change when I get to go to Tuscany in September for Simon’s Sister’s Wedding.)
Belfast has been around since the Bronze Age. That’s a long friggin’ time. And parts of it are very old worldy, with narrow winding streets and buildings made of stone. Other parts of it are very new worldy, with wide boulevards and buildings made of metal and glass.
Then there are the streets that are both. Where we currently live, there is a church that was built in 1844. And a block of flats that were completed about 6 months ago. They are building ‘Belfast’s Tallest Building’ (which we locals joke will be 4 storeys) next to Queen’s Bridge, built in 1849 (named for Queen Victoria, BTW).
Everywhere you go there is a mix of the old and the new. The current and the past. And quite a lot of the future, as construction cranes go up all over town.
I, as an American who grew up in a town where I think the oldest structure was from the 1950s, find this fascinating. I love old architecture and marvel at it. I marvel at the fact that our local Marks and Spencer is in a building that, in the US, would hold a bank, and would have been built to look that old. I marvel at the fact that our local Tesco is in the former home of Allied Irish Banks and has the most amazing arts and crafts style ceiling. You should see this thing, you’d be amazed that you are in a supermarket when you look up.
So Belfast is a study in contrasts. And I love (nearly) every minute of it.