Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises

Belfast

The Street Art Harbor


For long, Belfast (Gaelic for river mouth) was a forgotten city on the tourist map of the United Kingdom (UK). Located in Northern Ireland far away from London, this increasingly popular destination will surprise you with its art, waterfronts, diversity and the stunning nature. Influenced by both Ireland and Britain, Belfast enchants every single visitor.

Belfast City Hall

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A Brief History of Belfast

  • Humans have been living in the site of Belfast for more than 5,000 years.
  • With industrialization, important tobacco and shipbuilding industries started developing in the city.
  • The importance of Belfast grew only in the late 19th century, when Queen Victoria granted it city status.
  • When the island of Ireland was partitioned in 1920, Belfast, as the capital city of Northern Ireland, remained in the United Kingdom.
  • This caused a long conflict (the Troubles) in Northern Ireland, during which the Republicans, in favor of a united Ireland, and the Loyalists, in favor of the British crown, fought until 1998.
  • Today, Belfast is the student capital of Northern Ireland with relatively low costs of living for the UK standards.

Salmon of Knowledge


Attractions

The Queen's University and the Botanic Gardens

The main central building of the Queen's University in Belfast will leave you astonished with its red Victorian-style exterior. This university is not one of the oldest in the UK, but it certainly is one of the most beautiful ones. From the campus, you can enter the Botanical Gardens, the locals' favorite green space in the city. Among other things, the garden is famous for its Tropical Ravine, where visitors can observe a variety of tropical animals and plants.

View of Elmwood Church from Queen's University of Belfast - Northern Ireland


The Street Art of Belfast

Many tourists visit Belfast primarily because of its street art. On the one hand, there are over 300 murals, paintings on walls, which often convey political messages. This type of art was embraced as a form of expression during the Troubles. On the other hand, modern street artists gather in Belfast each year to produce new attractive paintings on city buildings. The themes vary, so the paintings can depict anything – from a famous person to a mythical creature. As they are sometimes as tall as the building they are on, these paintings are really hard to miss.


Titanic Quarter

Not many people know that the famous ship which tragically sank in 1912, Titanic, was actually built at the docks of Belfast. Titanic slipways, the place where Titanic first touched the water, have been reconstructed and now serve as a venue for cultural events. In the area, known as the Titanic Quarter, you will also be able to take a boat tour to see where Titanic was built, or to pick a meal from the Titanic menu.


St George's Market

Although the building that currently hosts St George's Market was built in 1896, there has been a regular Friday market on this particular site since 1604. Considering its history, the market is one of the oldest and most visited attractions in Belfast. Placed inside a glorious Victorian building, the market offers a variety of produce: Irish crafts, freshly made Irish stew, and local wool products. Going to this market after the traditional St. Patrick's Day Parade for some live music is a must.


Other Northern Irish beauties

  • Belfast and its surroundings are one of the regular filming locations for the hit Game of Thrones series. You can hop on a tour bus in the center of Belfast, and see where the hotspots such as the Castle Black and Dragonstone came into being.
  • The North-East coast of Northern Ireland is the United Kingdom's true gem. Giant's Causeway, a mysterious geological formation, is only an hour away from Belfast. This coastal landscape lies on the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and is believed to have been formed by a giant called Finn McCool.
  • If you are feeling adventurous, you can take a walk down the coastal path from Giant's Causeway to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which was used by salmon fisherman for hundreds of years. In case you are discouraged by strong winds from the Atlantic, the Rope Bridge area is also accessible by car or bus.

Sunset at Giant s Causeway in North Antrim, Northern Ireland


Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "partition" mean?
    1. dividing a country into parts
    2. going separate ways
    3. getting a divorce

  2. What does "dock" mean?
    1. the front part of a ship
    2. a ship factory
    3. an area in a port where ships are loaded and unloaded

  3. What does "astonished" mean?
    1. speechless
    2. shocked
    3. impressed

  4. What does "venue" mean?
    1. a construction site
    2. a place where events happen
    3. a riverbank

  5. What does "enchant" mean?
    1. to charm or put under a spell
    2. to sing a lullaby
    3. to do magic tricks


Collocation Questions

  1. Queen Victoria ___________ city status to Belfast.
    1. gave
    2. allowed
    3. granted

  2. Street art in Belfast is really hard to ___________.
    1. miss
    2. skip
    3. overlook

  3. The murals in Belfast usually ___________ a political message.
    1. send
    2. convey
    3. transmit

  4. The Botanic Garden is the favorite ___________ space in the city.
    1. nature
    2. park
    3. green

  1. Street art is a ___________ of expression.
    1. style
    2. form
    3. type

  1. Titanic ___________ sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg.
    1. tragically
    2. sadly
    3. unfortunately

  1. St George's Market serves ___________ stew every day.
    1. brand new
    2. new-made
    3. freshly made

  2. Strong ocean winds might ___________ you to walk for 11 miles.
    1. discourage
    2. depress
    3. deter

  3. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you should ___________ on a bus tour.
    1. get
    2. hop
    3. jump

  4. In the Tropical Ravine, visitors can ___________ different tropical animals.
    1. see
    2. watch
    3. observe


Wh Questions

  1. Who fought during the Troubles?
    1. The Republicans and the Loyalists.
    2. The Irish and the British.
    3. The Republicans and the Royalists.

  2. What are murals?
    1. political poems
    2. church paintings
    3. large wall paintings

  3. Where is the Giant's Causeway located?
    1. in the center of Belfast
    2. close to Dublin
    3. on the North-Eastern coast of the island

  4. Why should you visit St George's Market on Saint Patrick's Day?
    1. for Saint Patrick's stew
    2. for live music
    3. for great discounts

  1. How can you go from the Giant's Causeway to the Rope Bridge?
    1. only on foot
    2. on foot or by car
    3. only with a tour


Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Not many people know about Belfast's street art.
    2. Belfast's street art is well-known.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. St George's market has been located in the same building for 400 years.
    2. St George's market has existed for 400 years.


True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "The Queen's University in Belfast is the second oldest university in the UK."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "The directors of the most popular TV series of our times, Game of Thrones, shoot some, but not all of the scenes in Northern Ireland."
    1. True
    2. False


Answer Key

1. A | 2. B | 3. C | 4. B | 5. A | 6. C | 7. A | 8. B | 9. C | 10. B | 11. A | 12. C | 13. A | 14. B | 15. C | 16. A | 17. C | 18. C | 19. B | 20. B |21. B | 22. A | 23. B | 24. A


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