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Tour The Belfast Peace Walls – The Black Cab Tour


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Anthiathia Grimmett



Ireland is a country renowned for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. Among its many cities, Belfast stands out as a place that has faced significant challenges in the past, but has managed to transform itself into a symbol of peace and reconciliation. One of the most important symbols of this transformation is the Belfast Peace Walls.


These walls, also known as peace lines, were erected in the 1960s to separate Protestant and Catholic communities during the Troubles, a period of political and sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. The Troubles, which lasted for over three decades, caused immense pain and suffering, with thousands of lives lost and communities torn apart.


However, since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has made remarkable progress towards peace and reconciliation. The peace walls, which were originally intended to be temporary installations, still stand today as a reminder of the city’s troubled past, but also as a testament to its resilience and determination to build a better future.


What makes the Belfast Peace Walls unique is that they are not just physical barriers, but also symbols of hope and transformation. They have become a powerful tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world who are curious to explore the city’s complex history and witness its ongoing peace process.


The purpose of this article is to take you on a virtual tour of the Belfast Peace Walls, and specifically, the popular Black Cab Tour – a unique experience that allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s history, the significance of the peace walls, and the impact they have on the local community. Join us as we delve into the rich history, unique experiences, and ongoing debates surrounding the Belfast Peace Walls.


History of the Belfast Peace Walls

The history of the Belfast Peace Walls is deeply rooted in the Troubles, a period of intense political and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. The Troubles erupted in the late 1960s, fueled by deep-seated divisions between the Protestant Unionist community, who sought to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the Catholic Nationalist community, who desired a united Ireland.


As violence escalated, communities became divided along sectarian lines, with clashes and reprisal attacks becoming frighteningly common. In response to this growing unrest, authorities decided to erect physical barriers, known as peace walls, to separate the warring factions and prevent further bloodshed.


The first peace wall was installed in 1969, consisting of a simple barbed wire fence between the Shankill Road, a predominantly Protestant area, and the Falls Road, a predominantly Catholic area. Over time, the walls became taller, more fortified, and more numerous, stretching to cover over 21 miles in Belfast alone.


The intent behind the peace walls was to create a buffer zone between the communities, providing a sense of safety and security. However, instead of fostering peace, these walls served to reinforce the divide and deepen the sectarian tensions that plagued the region.


Initially, the peace walls were intended to be temporary structures, a temporary solution to a deeply rooted conflict. However, as the Troubles persisted and peace negotiations faltered, the walls remained standing, becoming a physical manifestation of the deep divisions that plagued Belfast.


Despite the violence and separation, the walls did have some unintended positive consequences. They helped to prevent further casualties and acts of violence by physically separating the communities. The walls also provided a visible reminder of the need for peace and reconciliation, serving as a daily reminder of the divisions that needed to be overcome.


With the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, a beacon of hope emerged for the people of Belfast. The agreement marked a turning point in the peace process and paved the way for a more inclusive and peaceful future. While the peace walls still stand today, there is hope that they will one day be dismantled, symbolizing the full reconciliation and unity of the city.


Purpose and Significance of the Peace Walls

The peace walls of Belfast have served a dual purpose throughout their existence. On one hand, they were intended to physically separate the Catholic and Protestant communities, preventing further violence and ensuring a sense of security for the residents. On the other hand, these walls have come to hold great symbolic significance, representing both the divisions of the past and the hope for a peaceful future.


One of the primary purposes of the peace walls was to prevent sectarian violence and protect the communities living on either side. During the Troubles, the walls provided a physical barrier that made it difficult for rival factions to carry out attacks or invade each other’s territory. They acted as a buffer zone, reducing the potential for clashes and acts of violence, and allowing residents to feel a sense of safety within their respective neighborhoods.


Furthermore, the peace walls were also seen as a means of containing the conflict. By creating separate spaces for Catholic and Protestant communities, the walls limited the opportunities for face-to-face confrontations and minimized the risk of intercommunity violence. This separation was seen by some as a necessary step to prevent further bloodshed in a volatile and deeply divided city.


However, the significance of the peace walls extends beyond their immediate practical purpose. These walls have become iconic symbols of the Troubles and a lasting reminder of Belfast’s troubled past. They bear witness to the immense challenges faced by the city and its people and serve as a tangible reminder of the need for reconciliation and unity.


For many residents of Belfast, the peace walls hold deep emotional significance. They represent the years of conflict and strife that they have lived through, the pain and loss they have endured, and the resilience and hope that has allowed them to move forward. These walls are a testament to the strength and determination of the community to overcome the divisions of the past and build a more harmonious future.


Moreover, the peace walls have become an important tourist attraction, drawing visitors from across the globe who come to witness the transformation of Belfast firsthand. The walls offer a unique opportunity to learn about the history of the Troubles, the impact of the conflict on the city, and the ongoing efforts towards reconciliation and peacebuilding.


While the peace walls continue to serve as physical barriers, there is a growing movement to dismantle them in order to fully heal the wounds of the past and create a more integrated and inclusive Belfast. Many believe that the removal of the walls will signify a significant step towards long-lasting peace and unity, sending a powerful message of hope and progress to the world.


The Black Cab Tour Experience

One of the most popular ways to explore the Belfast Peace Walls and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s complex history is through the Black Cab Tour. This unique experience allows visitors to embark on a journey through the neighborhoods of Belfast, guided by local taxi drivers who have firsthand knowledge and personal experiences from the Troubles.


As you embark on the Black Cab Tour, you will be greeted by friendly and knowledgeable taxi drivers who will act as your guides, storytellers, and historians throughout the tour. They will share their personal stories, insights, and perspectives, providing you with a genuine and authentic understanding of the history and significance of the peace walls.


The tour typically starts with a visit to the iconic peace lines, where you can see the towering walls that divide the communities. The taxi drivers will share stories and anecdotes about the Troubles, explaining the underlying causes, key events, and the impact the conflict had on the lives of Belfast’s residents.


As you continue your journey, you will have the opportunity to visit various sites and monuments that are intricately linked to the Troubles and the peace process. These may include the murals that adorn the walls, each telling a story and reflecting the aspirations, struggles, and hopes of the communities. From political murals to symbols of peace and unity, these artworks serve as powerful reminders of the city’s troubled past and its ongoing journey towards reconciliation.


The taxi drivers will also take you to key landmarks, such as the Peace Gate in the sectarian interface between the Falls Road and Shankill Road, where residents gather to commemorate the victims of the conflict and to express their desire for a peaceful future. They will share personal stories and local perspectives, helping you to truly grasp the significance of these sites.


Throughout the tour, you will have the opportunity to ask questions, engage in open discussions, and gain insights into the experiences of both communities. The taxi drivers are known for their honesty, compassion, and willingness to share their personal stories, contributing to a truly immersive and enlightening experience.


The Black Cab Tour provides a unique lens through which to view Belfast’s history of conflict and division. It offers a deep dive into the complexities of the Troubles, while also highlighting the resilience, determination, and progress that have marked the city’s journey towards peace and reconciliation.


By the end of the tour, you will have gained a newfound appreciation for Belfast’s history, its people, and the ongoing efforts to build a peaceful and inclusive society. The Black Cab Tour offers a powerful and transformative experience that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who takes part in it.


Popular Sites and Monuments along the Peace Walls

As you explore the Belfast Peace Walls, you will encounter a multitude of fascinating sites and monuments that offer a deeper understanding of the city’s history and the impact of the Troubles. These landmarks serve as powerful reminders of the challenges faced by the communities and their ongoing journey towards peace and reconciliation.


One of the most prominent features along the peace walls is the vibrant and thought-provoking murals that adorn the sides of the barriers. These murals act as visual narratives, depicting the struggles, aspirations, and aspirations of the communities. They reflect the rich history and cultural identity of the people, while also serving as a testament to their resilience and determination. The murals range from political symbols to symbols of peace and unity, each telling its own unique story and inviting contemplation.


Among the iconic murals is the “International Wall” on Divis Street, which features a collection of politically-charged artworks donated by artists from around the world. This wall highlights the global support for peace and unity in Belfast and showcases the solidarity of communities worldwide.


Another famous mural can be found at the Peace Gate, situated in the heart of the sectarian interface between the Falls Road and Shankill Road. This gate is adorned with colorful artwork and serves as a symbol of hope and dialogue between the two communities. It is a place where residents from both sides come together to commemorate the victims of the Troubles and express their shared desire for a peaceful future.


Along the peace walls, you will also come across monuments such as the Bobby Sands Mural, dedicated to the memory of the Republican hunger striker who played a pivotal role during the Troubles. This mural is a significant site for those who empathize with the Republican cause and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made during that turbulent period.


Additionally, the Crumlin Road Gaol, located near the peace walls, offers visitors a glimpse into the past, where they can witness the conditions in which political prisoners were detained during the Troubles. A tour of this historic jail provides a chilling insight into the reality of life during that time, enhancing one’s understanding of the political and social context of the Troubles.


Each of these sites and monuments serves as a powerful testament to the history, struggles, and aspirations of the Belfast community. They provide an opportunity for reflection and dialogue, encouraging visitors to learn from the past and foster a more inclusive and peaceful future.


Impact of the Peace Walls on the Community

The presence of the Belfast Peace Walls has had a profound impact on the communities living on either side. While these walls were originally intended to provide a sense of security and prevent violence, their existence has had both positive and negative consequences on the people and the overall community.


One of the positive impacts of the peace walls is the reduction in direct violence and intercommunity conflict. By physically separating the communities, the walls have acted as a deterrent, preventing clashes and minimizing the risk of further bloodshed. This has allowed residents to feel a sense of safety within their own neighborhoods, providing the space and opportunity for communities to heal and rebuild.


Furthermore, the peace walls have also served as a catalyst for community cohesion and identity. They have helped foster a sense of unity within each community, as residents band together in the face of adversity. The walls have become symbols of strength and resilience, reminding individuals of the common ties that exist within their respective neighborhoods.


However, the presence of the peace walls has also had negative consequences. The physical barriers have reinforced divisions within the city, perpetuating a sense of “us versus them” mentality among residents. This separation has created a form of social segregation, limiting interaction and cultural exchange between communities. The result is a lack of understanding and empathy, hindering the progression towards full reconciliation.


The walls also tend to perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices, as they can act as a visual reminder of the perceived differences between the communities. This can hinder the building of relationships and trust between individuals from different backgrounds. It is crucial to recognize the need to break down these barriers and foster a more inclusive and integrated society.


Moreover, the physical presence of the peace walls can negatively impact the economic and social development of the areas they surround. The barriers can create a sense of isolation and limit opportunities for growth and investment. A sense of division can deter people from visiting or investing in these areas, perpetuating a cycle of deprivation and underdevelopment.


Despite these challenges, there has been a growing movement towards the removal of the peace walls with the aim of creating a more integrated and inclusive Belfast. Efforts are being made to promote dialogue and understanding between communities, and initiatives are in place to transform the areas surrounding the peace walls into shared spaces for peace and reconciliation.


The impact of the peace walls on the community is complex and multi-faceted. While they have played a role in preventing violence and providing a sense of security, they have also created barriers that hinder social cohesion and economic development. It is important to continue supporting initiatives that promote dialogue, understanding, and the breaking down of these walls to truly achieve lasting peace and unity in Belfast.


Current Debates and Future Prospects

The presence of the Belfast Peace Walls continues to be a subject of debate and reflection within the community. While strides have been made towards peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, discussions about the future of these barriers and their impact on the city are ongoing.


One of the key debates revolves around the question of whether the peace walls should be dismantled. There are varying opinions on this matter, with some arguing that removing the walls would symbolize a true reconciliation and a move towards a more integrated society. Advocates for removal believe that the physical barriers perpetuate division and hinder social and economic progress in the affected areas.


On the other hand, there are those who argue for the retention of the peace walls, emphasizing the need for continued safety and security for the communities living in their shadow. They believe that the presence of the walls serves as a reminder of the Troubles and the progress that has been made, and removing them prematurely risks reigniting tensions and potentially undoing the peace process.


Despite the varying perspectives, there is a general consensus that the ultimate goal should be the removal of the peace walls. However, any action taken must be carefully considered and accompanied by comprehensive plans for community integration, support, and reconciliation.


The future prospects for peace and unity in Belfast appear promising. There is a growing movement towards community-led initiatives aimed at breaking down barriers, fostering dialogue, and promoting understanding between communities. Projects such as the Belfast Interface Project work towards transforming the spaces surrounding the peace walls into shared community spaces that promote social integration and cross-community engagement.


Additionally, efforts are being made to highlight the importance of educational programs and shared spaces that bring people from different backgrounds together. By fostering understanding and empathy among future generations, the hope is that the walls will eventually lose their relevance and be dismantled in the spirit of a united and inclusive Belfast.


Significant progress has already been made in recent years, with sections of some peace walls being removed or transformed into open spaces. While the process of removing all the walls may take time, it is clear that the desire for peace and unity is strong in Belfast.


Looking ahead, the continued commitment of the government, community organizations, and individuals to promote reconciliation, understanding, and shared spaces is crucial. By addressing the root causes of division and creating opportunities for interaction, Belfast can continue to move towards a brighter future, free from the physical and symbolic barriers that once separated its communities.



The Belfast Peace Walls stand as powerful symbols of the city’s troubled past, but also as reminders of its ongoing journey towards peace and reconciliation. These walls have had a significant impact on the community, both positive and negative, shaping the lives of those living in their shadow.


While the peace walls were initially erected to provide safety and security during the Troubles, they have also unintentionally perpetuated division and hindered social and economic progress. The presence of physical barriers between communities has created a sense of segregation and hindered opportunities for interaction and understanding.


However, there is hope for the future. The popularity of the Black Cab Tour and the growing movement towards community-led initiatives are signs of a changing tide. People are seeking to break down barriers, foster dialogue, and promote reconciliation.


The future prospects for a united and inclusive Belfast look promising. Efforts are being made to transform the spaces surrounding the peace walls into shared community areas, encouraging social integration and cross-community engagement. Educational programs and initiatives aimed at promoting understanding and empathy are also playing a vital role.


While debates continue about the removal of the peace walls, the common goal is clear: a peaceful and integrated society. The gradual dismantling of the walls, accompanied by comprehensive plans for community support and reconciliation, will be a significant step towards achieving this goal.


As visitors explore the Belfast Peace Walls and engage in the Black Cab Tour, they not only learn about the city’s complex history and the impact of the Troubles, but they also witness the resilience and determination of the communities to create a better future.


Ultimately, the Belfast Peace Walls serve as a tangible reminder of the progress that has been made and the challenges that still lie ahead. They are a testament to the strength and resilience of the city and its people. By embracing dialogue, understanding, and empathy, Belfast has the potential to forge a future that is truly united, peaceful, and inclusive.