Our tour in 360 Degree Video of Belfast Castle and its beautiful surroundings which is situated in Cave hill and offers amazing views overlook the City
Regarded by most people as one of the most imposing buildings in the city of Belfast and the whole country of Northern Ireland, with scores of visitors flocking there to enjoy afternoon tea in the Castle Tavern or to enjoy a stroll around the beautiful, landscaped gardens, Belfast Castle is definitely a landmark to behold.
Built in 1870 for the third Marquess of Donegall, in the Scottish Baronial style made fashionable by Queen Victoria’s Balmoral, multiturreted Belfast Castle commands the southeastern slopes of Cave Hill. Its cost had far exceeded the original estimate of £11.000. The Donegall fortune had dwindled and the Marquess’ son-in-law had to intervene financially.
The Belfast Castle estate is home to many different species of wildlife, including long-eared owls, sparrowhawks and Belfast’s rarest plant, the town hall clock. It contains both parkland and mature mixed woodland and offers superb views of the city from a variety of vantage points.
Essentially, the sandstone building was constructed in the Deerpark in the style of a German-Scottish Baronial castle. It was ostensibly designed by Charles Lanyon who designed many of the buildings in Victorian Belfast but is generally regarded to be the work of his younger partner W H Lynn who modelled it on Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
The word ‘Victorian’ is often applied to all buildings constructed during Queen Victoria’s long reign. But, in fact, there isn’t a single architectural style throughout those 63 years and buildings can generally be classified as being of the Low Victorian Era (1837-1867) or the High Victorian Era (1867-1900). Belfast Castle falls into the High Victorian Era as building work began in 1867 with it finally being completed in 1870. The great square tower, which closely resembles that at Balmoral, rises a full six stories. The entrance façade faces the steep slope of the hillside and has a porch with decorative Doric columns.
In 1894 the principal rooms were connected with the terrace below by an Italian style serpentine outside staircase the architect of which is unknown. The staircase was a gift from the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury to his mother. The Donegall coat of arms appears over the Castle’s front door and on the north wall of the building and the Shaftesbury crest appears on the outside serpentine staircase.
In 1978 the Castle was closed and Belfast City Council began a ten-year restoration programme that cost £2 million. It reopened in 1988 and is used today for functions, conferences and weddings. The Cellars of the Castle have a Victorian atmosphere with narrow, paved ‘streets’, shop fronts and gas lights.
Legend has it that the castle’s residents will experience good fortune only as long as a white cat lives there, a tale commemorated in the beautiful formal gardens by nine portrayals of cats in mosaic, painting, sculpture and topiary – a good game for kids is getting them to find all nine.