Ireland’s capital city brings to mind two distinct images. One is a literary paradise where the likes of Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce left their mark. The other is the traditional pub culture where anyone with a guitar can start a folk tune, sure to be joined by a chorus of drinkers armed with perfectly poured pints.
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Since 1613, when a Royal Charter bestowed it with town status, Belfast has been on a mostly steady ascent — officially becoming a city in 1888 and quickly achieving a reputation as a major force for its linen works and rope-making and shipbuilding industries. Wander into the magnificent City Hall in Donegall Square and this history spills through in illustrated stained-glass light onto marble surfaces. The massive Portland stone building, capped with a copper dome, maintains a strong presence in city center. Completed in 1906 in a combination of Edwardian and Baroque Revival styles on the site of the former White Linen Hall linen exchange, it houses a stunning porte cochère and the city’s coat of arms.