near Whitehouse, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Belfast Castle is set 400 feet above sea level on the slopes of Cave Hill overlooking the city of Belfast.
The restored sandstone castle was built in a Scottish baronial style with the main part of the building built over two floors and having semi circular round towers at the corners. Outside the castle has a sweeping stone staircase overlooking the formal gardens and park.
Belfast Castle is open to the public daily with a Visitor Centre, antiques shop and restaurant, for families the castle even has its own adventure playground.
The visitor centre on the second floor tells the story of the park, Cave Hill, the castle and its inhabitants and includes an audio visual presentation entitled ‘Watching over Belfast’. One of the bedrooms; laid out in the style of the 1920’s, has a collection of wedding photographs ranging from the 1940’s to the present. Taken at the castle the photographs illustrate the change in fashions.
A personal management coordinator is assigned to assist with arranging private functions and weddings. The castle can host both wedding receptions and civil ceremonies in one of its private rooms.
The original Belfast Castle was built in the city centre by the Normans in the 12th century and was home to the Baron of Belfast, Sir Arthur Chichester, later to become Marquess of Donegal. The castle was burned down in 1708 and rather than rebuild it on the same site it was decided to build a new castle within the deer park on Cave Hill many years later.
The new castle was almost completed in 1870 but due to the rising costs of the building and the loss of the family fortune it was unfinished. It was the Marquess’ son in law, Lord Ashley 8th Earl of Shaftsbury, who paid for the castle to be completed and inherited it in 1884.
The castle and it’s estate was presented as a gift to the City in 1934 and was used as a venue for wedding receptions and grand events until 1978 when the council started a major restoration programme. The project cost over two million pounds and took over ten years to complete.
Other Castles in the Area
Bangor Castle, County Down
Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim
Hillsborough Castle, County Down
Killyleagh Castle, County Down
Olderfleet Castle, County Antrim
Shanes Castle, County Antrim
Sketrick Castle, County Down
Stormont Castle, County Antrim