Skip to Content

War and Remembrance of the Troubles with the Belfast Murals

Learn about Northern Ireland through Belfast’s murals and street art.

In any former war zone, the conflict leaves behind physical reminders. They could be bombed out buildings, statues of the victors and memorial sites of the fallen. In Belfast, the memory of the Troubles is kept alive through sectarian street murals and a large wall dividing the historically Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods from one another.

The Belfast murals tell a very two very different stories about the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland and the sacrifices made by those involved. You can best see and hear these stories for yourself by taking a Black Cab tour of Belfast.

Belfast Murals -Peace Wall Gates

Taking a Black Cab tour of the Belfast Murals

Belfast is a pretty compact city. You can easily go on foot from one neighborhood to the next, and I do love exploring a city that way. However, the sectarian Belfast murals are spread between two neighborhoods that are closed off from one another. This makes a self-guided walking tour very tricky. There are also no helpful explanatory exhibits telling the story of the Troubles, so it’s best to hire out a black taxi tour and let the driver give you their unbiased tour of the Troubles.

The Belfast mural tours are supposed to be unbiased, but the conflict ended in the mid-’90’s, recollections are fresh and everyone was affected. So whoever your driver, you are going to get a filtered (and likely colorful) version of their history. Depending upon their point of view, one side was more likely to be “murderers” and the other “martyrs”. I wasn’t bothered by the lack of neutrality as it actually helped to underscore the scar tissue that still remains in Northern Ireland.

There are a bunch of different black cab tour companies and most are highly rated. It will cost ~€30 for up to three people (€9 for each person thereafter).  You can check them out and book on Trip Advisor.

Black Cab Tour Belfast Murals POWs

Sectarian Murals Tour

What follows is a visual tour of our Belfast black taxi tour. Our driver started us in the Protestant section along Shankill road, then we drove along the Cupar Way “peace wall” and into the Catholic section near Falls Court. One of the things that I found most interesting about the tour is the similarity of of styles between the two areas. I also noted that as the murals age, new messages are beginning to creep in.

Murderers and Martyrs in the Belfast Murals

There were plenty of people who died in the conflict, many of them innocent civilians. There were also plenty of aggressors perpetrating that violence including: the Republican paramilitary groups (such as the IRA), loyalist groups (such as the UVF) and British security forces (such as MI-5). During the Belfast murals tour, we saw a lot of wall space devoted to memorializing the fallen.

Fallen Protestants

Belfast Murals tour -McKeig
Belfast street murals- Coulter

Fallen Catholics

Belfast Falls Road Martyrs
Belfast Catholic side murals

Stubbornly Clinging to the War

What shocked me was the freshly wounded sentiment in many of the murals. There is still a massive “peace wall” segregating the two neighborhoods and the gates between them still clang shut at night. That scar tissue is still fresh for some and it will take a long time for them to find peace within themselves. However, there is some hope on this front as the wall is scheduled to be dismantled.

In the Protestant Shankill neighborhood, you can still find Loyalist flags flying and messages of war.

Loyalist Shankill Black Cab Tour Belfast
Belfast War Not Over Yet on Belfast Murals tour

Belfast Wall Murals Advocating Peace

But as you travel along the  the “peace wall”, you will begin to see messages expressing weariness with any kind of war and a desire to keep the peace.

Belfast Murals Peace Wall Messges
End Sectarian Violence Belfast

The term “peace wall” is a misnomer if ever there was one. The wall is 24 feet (7.6m) high, constructed of reinforced concrete, metal and barbed wire and it divides the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods along Cupar way.

Belfast Mural -Peace Wall

Downtown Belfast Street Art

The sectarian murals aren’t the only kind of Belfast street art. After your Black Cab tour, have your driver drop you at the Cathedral and wander the quadrant south of the church between Talbot, Waring and Hill streets. There you will find yet more street art that is edgy and political but not so sectarian. These modern murals reminded me a lot of the beautiful political street art in Buenos Aires.

Grab lunch in one of the many cafes or pubs in the neighborhood. After lunch, check out the Dark Horse on Commercial Court. Their parking lot courtyard is completely covered in a series of photo-realistic murals depicting a sexy, violent Belfast street scene. And they have a whole wall dedicated to Games of Thrones filming sites.

For more Game of Thrones, check out this post on taking an Antrim Coast road trip which will take you on a fun tour of Game of Thrones filming sites.

Both the black cab tour and the downtown Belfast street art walk won’t take you more than a half day. There is a lot more to do in Northern Ireland if you have 3-4 days, so check out this guide to disobeying Rick Steves in Northern Ireland for a suggested alternative itinerary to the area. Enjoy your time in Belfast and happy trails.

Study great street art in other cities by checking out my guides to:
Top Street Art Cities in the World | Books About Street Art|Street Art Festivals | Buenos Aires | Bogota | San Diego | San Francisco | Los Angeles |Nashville | Chicago | New York | Havana | London | Reykjavik  | Belfast | Bristol | Berlin | Paris | Estonia | Rural Australia | Melbourne | Honolulu | Salt Lake City

You can also find fresh articles on my Pinterest street art board.

Get more Wayfaring Views and subscribe to the newsletter

Share the Belfast murals and street art with your friends and pin this post!

Take a Black Cab tour and see the sectarian Belfast murals. They tell a visual story of the Troubles and Northern Ireland's ongoing recovery.Then visit downtown Belfast for edgy and modern street art


Sunday 8th of April 2018

Thank you for this article! I absolutely love street art, but I also appreciate the history lesson and am glad to learn things about Northern Ireland’s history that I didn’t know. You covered the topic nicely. And you have awesome photos of beautiful murals!

Trees Rotteveel

Thursday 20th of April 2017

I have done the black taxi tour two times as it made a deep impression on me. Very interesting written this!

Carol Guttery

Friday 21st of April 2017

I think I would do it again too. I had a more Catholic leaning driver and it would be interesting to have a more Protestant leaning driver for an alternative view


Wednesday 11th of January 2017

I love street art. So awesome that you found this. They tell such a historical story.

kathy (from

Wednesday 11th of January 2017

I hadn't really thought about going to Belfast but now it is absolutely on my radar. I love looking at the history of a city and along with the street art, this looks right up my street. Thanks for sharing.

Carol Guttery

Friday 13th of January 2017

The street art lured me but I also loved our road trip to the Antrim coast

Mia Herman

Wednesday 11th of January 2017

I'm a huge fan of murals and had no idea that a tour like this even existed! I'd love to do this to hear about the history of the city from a local who knows the real stories.Haven't been to Belfast but it definitely seems like a place with an interesting background.

Comments are closed.