This red-brick castle was built in the Scottish baronial style for the 3rd Marquis of Donegal in 1862 and has hosted weddings and dances for many city-dwellers.
There has been a castle in Belfast since the Norman times. The original Norman castle was in the city of Belfast itself, and a second castle was built by Sir Arthur Chichester, Baron of Belfast, on the same site in 1611. However, the 3rd Marquis of Donegal decided to move the castle lock, stock and barrel to the slopes of Cavehill in 1862. It’s built in the Scottish baronial style and was designed by John Lanyon, the son of well-known architect Charles Lanyon who designed many other buildings around Belfast. When the Marquis of Donegal died, the castle passed to his son-in-law, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, and it stayed in this same family until 1934, when it was handed over to the city of Belfast and used as a venue for weddings, dances and cream teas. It was closed from 1978-1988 for renovations and then reopened after a £2 million renovation programme. The castle has a striking set of winding stairs at the entrance - a popular place for wedding pictures. Most of the rooms are reserved for private functions but all have the same elegant décor and a panoramic view over Belfast Lough.
The Visitor Centre in the cellars is decorated to look like a Victorian street, with painted shop fronts and small “streets”. There’s a display on the history of the castle and the folklore of the surrounding Cave Hill Country Park. Pop into the Cellar Restaurant or Castle Tavern before stepping out for a walk in the grounds or up Cave Hill.