1 Walls of Derry
Soak up hundreds of years of Northern Irish history walking the Walls of Derry. Dating from 1618, the walls form a promenade around Ireland's first planned city and were originally constructed to defend settlers from England and Scotland. The settlers, known as planters, were enticed to Derry as part of a plantation programme instigated by King James I of England. Catholic Irish locals were uprooted and their lands given to the Protestant settlers. The name of the city was officially changed to Londonderry, but most Irish people continue to refer to it as Derry. These magnificent walls, which are eight metres high and nine metres wide in some places, have never been breached. The 105-day Siege of Derry occurred in 1689, when Catholic King James II, whose crown was under threat from the Protestant William of Orange, ordered his soldiers to take the fort. The Protestant garrison shut the doors and refused to let them in; thousands died of starvation. The walls are well maintained, as are the four original gates: Shipquay, Ferryquay, Bishop and Butcher. The cannons mounted along the walls serve as a reminder of past battles and were donated by the Guilds of London in 1649. The walls are open to the public from dawn until dusk and guided tours are available year round ( www.discoverireland.com
2 St Columb's Cathedral
Completed in 1633 for the English and Scottish planters, St Columb's was the first cathedral to be erected in the British Isles after the Reformation ( www.stcolumbscathedral.org
). The interior of this Gothic edifice was extensively restored in the 19th century. Inside, there's a small museum with relics from the 1689 siege, while a hollow mortar cannonball that was fired into the city by James II's army graces its vestibule. The cannon- ball carried terms for surrender to which the Protestants within the walls defiantly replied 'No surrender', a phrase commonly used by Ulster Loyalists during the so-called Troubles during the years after 1969.
3 Political murals
The giant wall murals of the Bogside, Fountain Estate and Waterside areas of Derry commemorate the bloodshed in the city's recent history. In the Catholic Bogside area there are 10 murals that illustrate the Troubles. One depicts the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry, on January 30, 1972, when the British army opened fire on a civil rights demonstration, killing 14 people. Another striking mural is that of 14-year-old Annette McGavigan, the 100th victim, and the first child to die in the Troubles. You can drop into the Bogside Artists' studio ( www.bogsideartists.com
) and visit the artists behind the murals. All can tell you about their experiences in those difficult times. By contrast, royalist murals of King William, the Union and Red Hand of Ulster flags can be found in Loyalist Protestant areas such as Fountain Estate and Waterside. Mural tours, at #4 per person (HK$60), depart daily at 10am and 2pm from Pilots' Row Centre on Rossville Street ( www.freederry.net
4 Museum of Free Derry
If looking at the murals whets your appetite for more information about the Troubles, head to the Museum of Free Derry ( www.museumoffreederry.org
), where you can learn more about the unrest of the 1960s and 70s. Packed with photographs and displays, this new museum is located right in the heart of the Bogside 'battleground'.
5 Tower Museum
Located within the walls, the city's main museum houses displays that tell Derry's entire story, starting with its geological formation millions of years ago. Newly renovated, the museum tackles everything from the plantation era to the Siege of Derry and the political and religious upheavals. The museum is also home to the Armada Shipwreck exhibition that documents the recovery of La Trinidad Valencera, a ship from the Spanish Armada that sank off the coast of Donegal in 1588. For city views, head to the open-air viewing platform at the top of the museum.
6 Follow the fiddle
Peadar O'Donnell's ( www.peadars-gweedorebar.com
) is one of Derry's most popular music pubs. Join in the hand clapping, foot tapping and singing as you down a Guinness or two. Local and visiting musicians often perform impromptu, and the pub hosts a live Irish band every night of the week.
7 Shopping and theatre
The city's creative activities are centred on the Millennium Forum ( www.millenniumforum.co.uk
), where the programme offers a range of artistic performances from ballet to comedy. The area around the Millennium Forum has been earmarked for development into an artistic precinct. Fashion and food cravings can be sated at the Foyleside Shopping Centre next door.
8 Jazz Festival
Swing to a jazzy beat at the coolest bash in town. Performances are spread across the city and many are free. The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival, which runs from May 3 to 6 this year, is fast becoming the place to hear some of Britain's top performers ( www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com
9 River Foyle
Float along the River Foyle (www. foylecruiseline.com) for a different perspective on the historic walled city. Cruises head for Culmore Bay and Greencastle, taking in the lush emerald green countryside. One-hour trips cost GBP6 (day) and GBP12 (night).
10 The Sperrins
Explore the mountains and windswept moors of the Sperrins, where hill-walking festivals attract enthusiastic hikers. Also popular is eel fishing. In winter, join the birdwatchers in search of wintering wildfowl on the Foyle mudflats and Lough Neagh. There are thousands of tombs and standing stones across the moors, including mysterious stone circles at Copney, Aughlish and Beaghmore ( www.sperrinstourism.com