In 1996, one of the most successful films of all time was shown in cinemas, winning the hearts of people all over the world. It eventually garnered 11 Oscars, earned billions from its timeless soundtrack, and brought in Academy Awards from diverse categories. This film is no other than “Titanic,” where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play the star-crossed lovers Rose and Jack Dawson. They meet aboard the Titanic, a ship of monumental proportions, but disaster strikes and forces them apart. A three-hour experience with a budget of 200 million dollars, the film plays powerfully on the emotions, such that many viewers bought a second round of tickets and its popularity hasn’t waned today.
But the film isn’t purely fictional—it’s based on a historical event that had a similarly overwhelming impact back in 1912. The RMS Titanic was the world’s largest passenger ship, carrying more than 2,000 people, and it ended up at the bottom of the ocean on its first and only voyage. The tragedy has captured the imagination of various artists since then. One of the most gripping testaments to it is the movie “Titanic,” which is the reason why the grave of the real Jack Dawson, an actual passenger on the ship, is often regaled with flowers.
Given the haunting legacy of the Titanic, a museum dedicated to it is likely to garner widespread attention. That’s exactly what happened with the Titanic Belfast, which is one of Europe’s top tourist attractions. Rivalling iconic destinations such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Buckingham Palace in London, it has drawn in more than three million visitors. From the museum’s opening in 2012, visitors have included Queen Elizabeth of England, “Titanic” director James Cameron, and Adele. It tells the entire story of the Titanic over a series of interactive galleries, from the ship’s construction and launch in the early 1900s to its notorious voyage and its resounding place in history.
The Titanic Belfast excels at bringing the Titanic back to life in all its glory. For one, it’s located in Belfast, Northern Ireland—the town where the Titanic was created and launched. Its designers and stakeholders envisioned that it would acknowledge Belfast’s prominence in history as a shipbuilding center and, of course, commemorate the Titanic, both of which it has fulfilled so far. In fact, it was opened to the public on Mar. 31, 2012, the same day that Titanic set out to sea.
WHAT IS INSIDE TITANIC BELFAST
Even at first impression, the Titanic Belfast captivates because of its sheer size and stunning façade. It’s the world’s biggest Titanic-themed attraction, with its construction involving 3,000 workers over three years. It towers at 126 feet (38 m), the same height as the hull of the Titanic, and it covers more than 130,000 sq ft. (12,000 sq m). From the outside, it imitates an iceberg, since it’s decorated all over with three-dimensional aluminum shards that reflect light, an effect enhanced by sparkling pools of water around the museum. Even the shape of the building is unique. Four prongs that look like ships’ prows jut out from the center, representing the four ages of shipbuilding in Belfast: Wood, Iron, Steel, and Aluminum. Surrounding the building are benches cleverly arranged according to the Morse code of Titanic’s distress call, SOS CQD.
Just as the Titanic itself carried the equivalent of a crowd, the Titanic Belfast throngs with tourists speaking animatedly in different languages throughout the day. The energy is palpable. Awaiting you are six floors stacked like the desk of a ship, with nine interactive galleries that engage the senses and invite you to experience what it was like to be a passenger aboard.
The first two galleries show how Titanic was created and give you a quick background on Belfast’s industrial history. An indoor cable car takes you through the different phases of construction, complete with realistic sound effects and full-scale reconstructions. This sets the stage for the next five galleries, which focus on the launching of Titanic, its features as a ship, and the story of its journey, including its sinking and the aftermath. Unlike books or films where you’re a passive observer, the Belfast Museum invites you to participate fully. Feel the heady excitement as you enjoy a sweeping view of the slipways from where Titanic was launched, and explore the interiors, engine rooms, and deck promenade of the Titanic for yourself through a 3D cave. Exhibits, computer-generated images, and models serve as exact replicas of the cabins. Beyond getting to know the ship, you also get the chance to learn about the stories of the passengers. One gallery further tackles the legends and myths that have built up around the Titanic as well as the rediscovery of its wreckage. Finish off this awe-inspiring tour by boarding the SS Nomadic, a tender for the Titanic that’s the last remaining White Star Line vessel and the biggest Titanic artefact in the world.
As with most museums, you can find a café, restaurant, bar, and gift shop on the first floor. There’s also a conference and banqueting suite on the top two floors, including a replica of the liner’s grand staircase. Overall, the museum is so absorbing that you can spend at least a half day inside without noticing time passing by, and its amenities are complete, whether you’re craving for lunch after all the walking or looking for souvenirs to take home.
A TRAGEDY AT SEA
The Titanic Belfast is a work of marvel all on its own, but at its essence is the historical Titanic, which seemed destined to leave a profound mark on history from the start. There was nothing quite like it back then. It was named “Queen of the Ocean” and even described as one of the wonders of the world because of its size. A huge amount of fanfare welcomed it, inspiring so much confidence in people that many would go into denial later upon hearing that it had sunk.
More than ambition, it was business that motivated the creation of the Titanic. Two shipping lines, Cunard and White Star Line, were locked in competition. Cunard was a British company with two ships that were highly regarded as the most elegant and luxurious. On the other hand, the White Star Line was struggling to remain competitive. In order to challenge Cunard, a drastic move had to be made, and J. Bruce Ismay, the chief executive, thought of making a gigantic ocean liner that would catapult White Star Line to fame. This idea would be actualized into the Titanic, which ended up being so big that a new shipyard had to be made for it.
When the hull was launched, more than 100,000 people attended. The ship’s amenities were top-notch, satisfying the demands of the wealthy and elite. To combat the boredom and inconvenience of a long voyage over the sea, Titanic had a squash court, gym, pool, Turkish bath, and kennel for first-class dogs. The departure for its maiden voyage on Apr. 10, 1912 created quite a stir. From Southampton, England, it was headed for New York with 2,240 passengers. While the Titanic earned the approval of celebrities and dignitaries, its passengers were a diverse bunch divided among first, second, and third class. The third class passengers were the least conspicuous, but they also made up the bulk of White Star Line’s customer base.
After four days of uneventful sailing, disaster struck on Apr. 14 when the Titanic collided with an iceberg. The ship was turned sharply to minimize impact, and to the premature relief of the ship’s staff, the iceberg only grazed along the side. However, it cut a 300-foot gash in the hull, below the waterline where it wasn’t noticed right away. The ship gradually tilted downwards as the water flooded in. After only around 2 hours and 40 minutes, it would capsize completely into the ocean. Chaos and confusion ensued when people realized that their lives were in danger. Even worse, the temperature of the water was deadly at -2 degrees Celsius, guaranteeing that you’d die within 15 minutes of being submerged. As you’d expect, reactions ranged from heroic to cowardly to resigned. Ismay sent out a distress signal that was received by Cunard’s Carpathia, which sailed as fast as it could to salvage the passengers. However, the lifeboats were woefully underfilled, and only 705 survivors made it through.
Given the scope of the tragedy, many boards of inquiry investigated what happened to the Titanic, analyzing it from every angle possible and rigorously interviewing eyewitnesses. Despite the intensive information-gathering, the final decision was sloppy—it was rashly concluded that the sinking of the Titanic was an accident, ignoring many of the flaws inherent in its structure even before it started its voyage. Ismay was guilty of shortchanging the ship’s construction in terms of both time and money. He was working on a limited budget and he wanted to get it done as quickly as possible, more fixated with the publicity and appearance of it rather than its sturdiness. For example, the walls separating the bulkheads were only a few feet above the waterline, so it was still possible for water to flow from one compartment to another. The lifeboats in total, while greater than the minimum recommendation, could only accommodate one-third of the passengers at most. In the case of a disaster—which could never be ruled out—the safety of the Titanic’s passengers was far from guaranteed. If this had been a greater priority during the ship’s design and construction, then perhaps the tragedy could have been averted, or at least lessened in scale.
In the face of news about disasters, we often react with shock, horror, and sadness, but the sinking of the Titanic had an unusually heavy impact and could even be considered traumatizing on the collective level. Because news traveled much more slowly then and was prone to being spread through hearsay, people were in disbelief at first, even insisting that the ship only experienced difficulties but had made its way to the other shore. Aside from the number of lives lost, the Titanic was meant to stand for human capability and technological prowess. Its sinking scorned its supposed indestructibility, and it morphed into a symbol for human hubris that would live on through the memories of people, the preservation of history, the works of artists and scholars, and even everyday objects and souvenirs.
For well-crafted memorabilia that will fit right in at your home, you don’t have to trek all the way to a museum. At ShamrockGift, you can choose from our selection of products commemorating Titanic, and your order will be conveniently delivered to you.
One of our bestseller’s is the Titanic Heart of the Ocean Necklace which was featured in the epic Titanic film. The blue center stone is surrounded by white crystals, just as it was in the film, giving it a beautiful accent and timeless prestige.
A fun conversation starter or a great gift for a Titanic history buff, this Titanic Hand Bell represents a piece of history that should never be forgotten. As an authentic replication, this decorative accessory appears just as the original bell that was used on the famous Titanic.
Commemorate the legendary Titanic with this Titanic Metal Sign that is sure to become a conversation starter in any home. As a recreation of a real vintage advertisement promoting the Titanic’s maiden voyage, this sign features rich colors and detailed embossing for an authentic and classic look.
Celebrate the legacy of the Titanic with this bold Resin Titanic Fridge Magnet. Proudly featuring the famously gigantic ship with an attractive yellow, black, and red color scheme, this piece is sure to stand out as it adorns your fridge.
This practical and stylish Titanic Whistle Keyring has everything you need for your day-to-day. In addition to including a silver ring to hold all of your keys in one convenient spot, and an emblem of the White Star Line flag, this keyring also holds a special whistle that is excellent for emergencies or physical activities.
The Titanic conveys timeless elegance, after all—even more than a century later, the story of the Titanic remains part of mainstream culture, and the Titanic Belfast is proof of that. Shop more Titanic memorabilia at ShamrockGift.com today.