This is a great starting point for Belfast tours as the spectacular view gives you a feeling for the geography of the city and beyond. Not widely visited it is a bit of a hidden gem.
The castle is set on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park , Belfast, Northern Ireland in a prominent position 400 feet (120 m) above sea level. Its location provides unobstructed views of the city of Belfast and Belfast Lough.
The original Belfast Castle , built in the late 12th century by the Normans , was located in the town itself , flanked by the modern day High Street , Castle Place and Donegall Place in what is now Belfast city centre. This was the home of Sir Arthur Chichester , baron of Belfast , but was burned down in 1708 , leaving only street names to mark the site.
Rather than rebuild on the original site , the Chichesters decided to build a new residence in the city's suburbs , today's Belfast Castle emerging as a result.
The building that stands today was built from 1862–70 by the 3rd Marquess of Donegall. It was designed in the Scottish baronial style by Charles Lanyon and his son , of the architectural firm Lanyon , Lynn and Lanyon. After Donegall's death and the family's financial demise , the 8th Earl of Shaftesbury completed the house.
It was his son , the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury , who presented the castle to the City of Belfast in 1934.
In 1978 , Belfast City Council began a major refurbishment over a period of ten years at a cost of over two million pounds. The building officially re-opened to the public on 11 November 1988.
The castle boasts an antiques shop, a restaurant and visitors centre and it is a popular venue for conferences , private dining and wedding receptions. Worth seeing on any Belfast tours or tours of Ireland. If you visit on a cruise ship it is a short trip to the castle. A must see attraction in our opinion.