Almost as soon as you turn onto Protestant Shankill Road, you pass a building that has been entirely painted with the Union Jack flag. A few blocks down the road, and off to the right, you'll see a cluster of enormous murals, including one celebrating Oliver Cromwell, who massacred Irish Catholics in an effort to conquer the island. Across a field from that mural is one of a man in a ski mask pointing a machine gun at the street. Locals say it's the Belfast version of Mona Lisa's eyes, which are said to follow you around the room -- no matter where you go in the area, that gun is always pointing at you. Shankill is indefinably grimmer than the Falls Road -- it's more down at heel and you'll see more boarded-up shops, but the people are generally friendly. Shankill murals seem to be darker than those on the Falls, where many murals are about solidarity with the downtrodden; here, they're all about the corruption of Catholics, with a display of painted weaponry. As this book went to press the local government was discussing removing the more extreme murals from the 1970s and '80s, so it's possible that you'll be among the last to see them if you make it here.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010