Has Jesus ever visited Ireland

Monument to the Unknown Worker By Louise Walsh (On Great Victoria Street, Belfast):

Like an iceberg, some say. Like another ship's hull. Like a cross between the two and a UFO, say third. Whatever: strange, pointed and strangely shimmering, the "Titanic Belfast" building in the former Docklands of Belfast rises into the gray sky - a building, not entirely of this world.

The adventure center is intended to embody the triumphant return of the world's most famous ship to its place of origin, the city in which it was designed and built. Not as a ship, of course, but as a multimedia staged myth, in the guise of spectacular architecture.

2012 is set to be Belfast's big year: it wants to celebrate its resurrection as a tourist destination by staging a downfall. The 117 million euro "Titanic Belfast" should be no less than the flagship of a city on the move.

The building was erected almost exactly where the "Titanic" and her sister ship "Olympic" rose 101 years ago.

Anyone standing at the bow of the building high up at the panorama window is looking from the same height, the same angle as once from the "Titanic" hull onto the "Slipway" - the ramp from which the "Titanic" was launched in 1911.

A historical film recording shows the launch, which lasted 62 seconds, on the spot, as well as the cheering of the ten thousand spectators as a soundtrack. It is a goosebumps moment, one of many that can be experienced in "Titanic Belfast".

But even if the building and its interior are extremely spectacular - it did not turn out to be a Disneyesque theme park.

One could have expected a fairground spectacle - replica ship interiors that tilt and vibrate, doom simulations in film, sound and as a ride attraction.

Instead, the multimedia exhibition tells the story of the prehistory of the catastrophe in an imaginative and detailed manner, and one learns in an entertaining way about the social and economic conditions in what was then "Boomtown Belfast".

The only ride attraction in the building is not about the sinking, but leads in gondolas through the backdrop of a replica "Titanic" dock.

You can hear the noise of the construction work, smell the stench of the welding work. A specially produced steel sweat smell is to be sprayed in this part of the exhibition. The downfall, on the other hand, is staged with all the means of advanced edutainment (it gets dark, the room temperature falls), but it is reserved, calm, pious.

A successful dramaturgy - "Titanic Belfast" definitely relies on effects, but not on cheap ones. The highlight is a walk through Robert Ballard's high-resolution images of the wreck of the "Titanic" on the ocean floor: You walk on a transparent glass floor as if you were above water, beneath you are the remains of the ship.

The reluctance is especially understandable when you know that the subject of "Titanic" was taboo in Belfast for years, even decades.

The disgrace of the downfall was too great, the trauma of the catastrophe of April 14, 1912, which killed 1,517 people, including the members of the 35-strong technician team that the Harland & Wolff shipyard took with them, was too deep Had sent maiden voyage.

Only with the enormous media coverage of the discovery of the wreck in 1985 and the sensational success of the Hollywood film from 1997 did the city begin to suspect what capital could be made out of the supposed disgrace.

With the "Good Friday Agreement" between Protestants and Catholics from 1998, the basis for peaceful urban development was finally given.

Instead of making people talk through bombs and incendiary devices, the city returned to the proud engineering and shipbuilding tradition from which the "Titanic" originated around 101 years ago.

With a multifunctional sports arena, film studios, the new campus of the technical university as well as sleek apartment blocks and hotels, it has blossomed into one of the largest inner-city development projects in Europe.

The adventure center should attract up to 400,000 visitors annually, 35,000 people should move permanently to the "Titanic Quarter". A truly titanic vision - could it crash on an iceberg called the "economic crisis"?

Everyone involved in the project is optimistic that this will not happen. "Just in time for the economic crisis," the money for the construction was raised, says Paul Crowe, the executive architect of "Titanic Belfast".

"But under today's conditions it would no longer be possible to finance this project. When I was standing in front of the huge excavation three years ago, I was already quite uncomfortable," Crowe admits in retrospect.

At that time, his team had already started construction before the funds were approved - "a leap of faith", as Crowe says, a daring leap in the belief that it would be all right.

This, too, parallels the construction of the "Titanic": the huge dry dock from Harland & Wolff, for example, was excavated by the shipyard years before the first "Titanic" plans, in the hope that sooner or later ships would be built that would would need such a large dock.

At that time it worked out. The dock is still there, it is not far from the "Titanic Belfast" building and can be visited - a pleasant contrast to the adventure world of the center, in which even the rust on the supposed iron inner walls is only painted.

To view the most touching artifacts, one has to go to the "Ulster Folk & Transport Museum" near Hollywood just outside Belfast "Titanic" were recovered.

Including surprisingly well-preserved items of clothing, a game of cards, a silver soup tureen and - strangely touching - a hot water bottle that probably didn't help its owner very much.

And then there are still living exhibits, at least that's how they should feel this year: on the one hand the descendants of those shipyard workers who built the "Titanic", on the other hand those of the members of the technician team who built the "Titanic" on its first and escorted the last trip.

You can meet them all at the meetings of the "Titanic Society": the great and great-grandchildren of the "Titanic" designer Thomas Andrews, the ship's doctor Jack Simpson, the engineer Thomas Millar. All of them, now getting on in years, can tell about the catastrophe from an unusual, familiar perspective.

They know the iron silence about the "Titanic" from their grandparents and can well remember that everything that had to do with "Titanic" - crockery, stationery, spare parts - was destroyed.

Some of them, like Susie Millar, descendant of the engineer, have discovered their family history as a source of income and offer tours in the footsteps of the "Titanic".

For others, like Kate Dornan, speaking to the Titanic Society is the utmost public they can imagine. The ship's doctor's descendant and her husband have reconstructed the last hours in the life of their tragically famous family member.

The association meets monthly in the rooms of an old school. On this evening there is a lot of talk about the "Edwardian Way" with which the doctor, but also the crew and many passengers encountered the disaster: With "Stiff Upper Lipp" The downfall was faced stoically and politely. Did what had to be done, smoked another cigarette - and then said goodbye with a handshake.