Proud Belfast Castle sits atop Cave Hill. Its history encompasses several hundred years. Its site has been the home of a Norman Castle in the 12th century as well as a smaller stone and timber structure in the early 17th century. Today’s prominent structure is actually a product of the late 19th century. Its story began when the absentee owners, the Chichesters (in 1870, the third Marquis of Donegall, hence the Donegalls) came over to stay.
The architects the Marquis decided to engage in the 1860s was a firm, Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon. The principal architect for this project was John Lanyon. Modeled on the Scottish style of Balmoral Castle, Belfast Castle took shape in the 1870s. His design included showy gables and turrets as well as an enormous tower stretching upwards for 6-storeys. There were some changes to the design over the years. The reception rooms were constructed by the Earls of Shaftsbury. In 1978, under the direction of the Belfast City Council the Castle received a major overhaul. At the end of the work in 1988, Belfast Castle opened its doors to the public. Today, you can wander its halls, visit the Cave Hill Heritage Center or purchase goods from the shops in the Cellar.