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St. Anne's Cathedral (Belfast)

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Donegall Street,Belfast.

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      30.08.2001 19:26
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      St. Anne's is about a 5-10 minute walk from Belfast City Centre. From the outside this massive grey ediface with its moss covered roof towers over us diminutive humans. Those of us with an interest in architecture can hardly fail to be impressed with it's outward appearance. Although services continue inside, it has been identified as a tourist attraction that relies on donations to keep it maintained. On arriving you receive a pamphlet (with a choice of languages) that tells you about the more interesting attractions. Each item has been numbered and a corresponding number can be found on the pamphlet, so the tour can take place at your own pace. The designers of St. Anne's certainly put a lot effort into making the Cathedral a religious experience. The tiling as you go in is constructed in the form of a maze to represent the movement through the maze of life, with the exit (obviously) point towards the altar. Other items of particular interest to me were the mosiacs on or near the roof, all done by hand in what must have been a nightmare for the artist due to the sheer height of the building. My favourite represent St. Patrick coming to Ireland and is well worth the look. Another on the roof of the circular baptistry showed the four elements - Earth, Fire, Water and Air, with the Sun in the centre which was beautifully designed. The stained glass windows are also very attractive. Many of the points of interest identified related to memorials to fallen soldiers, usually taking the shape of flags suspended from the roof, which have grown obviously old over time. Although memorials to fallen soldiers are vastly important, I felt that the sheer quantity of them gave the whole building a rather morbid air which detracted from the architect's and artist's work to show Christianity's beauty. I'm not really sure that St. Anne's should be identified as a tourist attraction as such.
      It seems to me that it is more of a place of pilgrimage.

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