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Northern Ireland has an abundance of castles. Carrickfergus Castle is one of the best preserved and is a very impressive monument. Dunluce castle on the North Coast is also very impressive. It's now a ruin but it's easy to imagine how spectacular it would have been during its use. Belfast Castle is a slightly different castle in that it's not one that you would immediately picture when you think of a castle. But it's an impressive monument nonetheless.
Location of Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle is located on the slopes of the Cavehill. It's set in a picturesque country park which is about 4 miles from Belfast City centre. The castle enjoys brilliant views over Belfast City and Belfast Lough.
A bit about the Castle
The Castle was not built for or by royalty. The original construction began in 1862 by the 2nd Marquess of Donegall. It was built to take advantage of the generous hunting the mountain offered and as a family home for the wealthy Chichester's. However with the death of the Marquess and the subsequent demise of the families' finances the building work halted. It was then later completed by the 8th Earl of Shaftsbury.
The Castle was gifted to the city of Belfast in 1934 by the 9th Earl of Shaftsbury.
This is a lovely building and is well worth a visit for the views of Belfast alone. The Castle in now used for functions such as weddings and special occasions. There is an antique shop located in the castle and a restaurant however.
Internally the Castle is nothing to write home about. Its ok but nothing special. It has most recently been refurbished in 1978 and some of the decorations haven't changed since that time and in my opinion make some of the rooms a little dated to the 1970s.
The best feature of the Castle is the views of Belfast and the Lough. On a nice sunny day the country park that the Castle sits in can be very popular with local and tourists as it's a lovely place to spend some time.
The Castle also benefits from a Cat garden. It was originally built for the lady of the house as she was a fan of cats. Today they have stuck with this theme and there are a number of cat shaped plants and statutes dotted throughout the garden.
Overall this is a nice place to visit and best of all its free.
The first 'Belfast Castle' was built by the Normans in the late 12th century. On the same site a stone and timber castle was erected in 1611. This Castle was burned down in 1708, The second castle was completed in 1870 and stands about 400 ft above sea level
Belfast castle has become a popular place for wedding receptions and private parties as well as welcoming a great deal of tourists and locals alike to its surrounding areas, gardens and country park. Conference facilities are also available and can be arranged
The cellar restuarant is open for buisness from lunchtime onwards and has a wide range of foods available including vegetarian cuisine. There is also a bar in the cellar as well as a quaint antiques shop
The castle area boasts some of the best views of belfast and its surrounding areas, popular sites such as The shipyard and Belfast Lough can be viewed from there. The country park itself is on the site of the Cavehill, there are many possibilities for walking on Cave Hill, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. The immediate area of Belfast Castle has several paths, one of which emerges from the trees just below the caves. From there it is possible to reach the caves area and by turning left it is possible to scramble up to MacArt's Fort, and the Napoleans nose, so called becuse it is said that if you look at the cavehill sideways it looks like napolean. For me its more about which angle you look at it from!
There is also a play ground for children open from 9am to 6pm each day.
The playground caters for the 3 -14 year olds and there is an admission charge. The extensive range of equipment offers children a variety of play activities and exciting experiences.
The belfast castle is a great day out whether you are a tourist or a local looking for something to do, its beautiful views and surrounding areas make for a pleasant time!