Featured image of Belfast Castle

The History of Belfast Castle

LocationBelfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland (Google Maps)
Open for visitorsYes
Owned byBelfast City Council
Official WebsiteBelfast Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Weddings, Business Meetings, Events)

Built in the 12th century by the Normans, Belfast Castle is established in a prominent position of The Cave Hill County Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Victorian structured Castle has a breathtaking view in the lough of the city and is positioned 120 m above sea level. 

History of Belfast Castle

The first Belfast Castle was built in the late 12th century by the Normans in Belfast city. A second castle was constructed by Sir Arthur Chichester, the baron of Belfast, on the same site in the year 1611. However, this castle was built of stone and timber and burnt down after a hundred years, leaving only a little of it to mark its presence as the Castle Place to the common public. A hundred and fifty years later, in 1862, the process of reconstructing the castle was undertaken by The Third Marquis of Donegall, a descendant of the Chichester family, who decided to build a new castle on the North of Belfast. 

The castle we see today was built in Scottish Baronial style, and the construction was completed in 1870. After the third Marquis of Donegall’s demise, the castle’s possession was passed onto The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury: Lord Ashley. The Shaftesbury family contributed a lot to the Belfast Castle through donations, charities, garden fetes, etc., for which they are famously remembered through the various streets of Belfast like the Donegall Place, Donegall Square, Donegall Road, and Shaftesbury Square. The castle remained in The Shaftesbury family’s possession for several years until it was passed onto the city of Belfast in 1934.


Designed and built in the Victorian version of the Scots Baronial Style and constructed with pink Scrabo sandstone, the castle is a dream come true. One of its most iconic features is the greyish-brown winding stone staircase on the garden façade, which is a present photo booth for newlyweds! Rooms of the castle have now been converted into public tea rooms that can be booked for tea parties or meetings.

Though the castle had to close down for a few years and reopened in 1988, it is now a renowned venue to host Weddings, Business Meetings, and similar events. Many other establishments can be visited alongside the castle like The Cave Hill Country Park, The Cave Hill Adventurous Playground, The Cave Hill Visitor Centre, the Belfast Zoo, and many more. Orientation Courses are also available within the castle.

The stunning Belfast Castle taken from the gardens. A very photogenic building which can be hired out for various events.
Belfast Castle, Northern Ireland”, by Andrew Hurley, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to get to the Belfast Castle?

There are three ways to get to Belfast Castle. One way to reach the castle is to take a bus from Belfast North Street to Newtownabbey Serpentine Road and walk for approximately 12 minutes to reach the castle. Another way is to take a taxi from Belfast to Belfast Castle, hire a cab or simply walk. 

  • Who lives at the Belfast Castle?

Belfast Castle was used as the permanent premises of the Shaftesbury family from the 18th to the early 19th century. Currently, it is under the possession of the Belfast City Council and open to the public for occasional arrangements or simply a visit! 

  • What is the Belfast Castle famous for?

Belfast Castle is famously used to hold weddings, it is a popular avenue to hold business meetings, tea parties, and occasional dinner meet-ups! Apart from this, the castle is also famous for The Cave Hill Country Park, The Cave Hill Adventurous Playground, The Cave Hill Visitor Centre, and much more! 

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.

Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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