Titanic Belfast is a visitor attraction and a monument to Belfast's maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard.
In 2004 Tourism NI and Belfast City Council recognised the need for a ‘must see visitor attraction’ in Belfast, and the unique position the city had as the birthplace of RMS Titanic. Over the following years a feasibility study and consultation were carried out and the Titanic Signature Project began to emerge. In 2006 the first planning application for the site in Titanic Quarter was submitted, and with the Northern Ireland Assembly taking responsibility for devolved matters in 2007, one of the first key decisions made was the investment in the Titanic Signature Project.
Titanic Foundation Limited was established in 2008 and took over the further development of the Titanic Signature Project, with Tourism Minister Arlene Foster announcing that funding of the project would be a joint private & public investment via Tourism NI, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, and Titanic Quarter Limited.
The architects Civic Arts were appointed, with the late Eric Kuhne the key conceptual architect, coming up with the iconic shape – to reflect the shape of the prows of the ships that were once built in the shipyard, the White Star Line logo, ice crystals, and the points on a compass. Todd Architects provided the onsite project management and internal fitout, and the building was constructed by Harcourt Developments.
Harcourt Developments began work in 2009, building an 8 storey visitor attraction on the edge of the slipways where Titanic was constructed more than a hundred years previously. The main exhibition consists of nine interpretative galleries drawing together special effects, a shipyard ride, full-scale reconstructions and innovative interactive features. The galleries include an Ocean Exploration Centre which provides an insight into local and international marine life with direct links to Robert Ballard and the discovery of Titanic’s wreck.
The building was completed in March 2012 and in addition to the interpretative galleries, features a conference and banqueting suite on the top two floors, including a replica of the liner’s Grand Staircase, as well as a café, restaurant and gift shop in the ground floor public atrium. The Andrews Gallery is available for temporary exhibitions, events, performances and meetings, and the Education Suite provides an education facility for schools and community groups.
Titanic Belfast was officially opened by the First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness on the 31st March 2012, marking the centenary of Titanic’s maiden voyage.
Since opening Titanic Belfast has welcomed more than three million visitors, and won numerous awards. In its first three years, it has generated more than £105 million in additional tourism spend for the Northern Ireland economy, and sustains around 893 jobs each year in the wider economy.
The visitor attraction has exceeded all expectations and in 2015 was named Europe’s best visitor attraction in the European Group Travel Awards, beating the Eiffel Tower and London Eye.
To plan your visit to Titanic Belfast, please visit their website www.titanicbelfast.com