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Though somewhat confined to the past, sectarian and political divide is something that has been associated with Belfast for many years. Even today, glaring reminders of the divisions still remain. This article will outline about the main areas of the Republican (Nationalist) and Loyalist (Unionist) communities in Belfast and common safety advice which should be observed when visiting them.
Shankill Road (The Shankill)
The largely Protestant and Loyalist Shankill Road lies in West Belfast. The long street is lined with shops and is surrounded by a large housing estate. Shankill Road is first and foremost a working class neighbourhood but there are frequent reminders of the divided community here. The murals on Shankill Road are fascinating, as is the British patriotic feeling evident from the Union and Ulster (Red Hand) flags which line the buildings.
Ask a tour guide and they will tell you that Crumlin Road is probably one of Belfast's most troubled neighbourhoods. Home to several interfaces (points where the Republican and Loyalist streets connect), Crumlin Road and the area around it was the site of some of the worst killings of the Troubles. Today, a lack of urban re-development on the road has left it somewhat derelict and run down. There are some sights to be seen however, the Orange Order building is on Crumlin Road.
Loyalist Sandy Row
Sandy Row is famous for the mural which identifies it. This is a Loyalist street in South Belfast near the Europa Hotel and not far from the University. It is a shopping street and is generally quite safe.
The centre of the Republican community in West Belfast is Falls Road, a fascinating neighbourhood for tourists due to the murals which can be seen here. Many of the murals on Falls Road are very artistic, though some might differ with the politics behind them. Sights on Falls Road include the Hunger Strike murals and the Sinn Fein head office (including a small gift shop).