Belfast Castle:  A 12th Century Icon of Northern Ireland Culture and Tradition

As the name suggest, Belfast Castle can be found in Northern Ireland in Ulster Province's Antrim County. Although Belfast Castle is part of Northern Ireland, it is less than two hours from Dublin Airport by car.

Irish Expressions: Belfast Castle.  Image of the castle courtesy of Bigstock.

You'll head north on the A1 for about an hour, and then you'll cross the national border into Northern Ireland, following the M1 for about 45 minutes before turning onto Lansdowne Road right to the castle's parking lot.

Things to Know About Belfast Castle

Here are some fun facts about this amazing Irish landmark.  Hopefully they will entice you to pay a visit in person!

But if that is not possible, you can always use them to impress your friends with your knowledge of one of the most-loved attractions in Ireland.

  • Arguably one of the best-known castles in Ireland is Belfast Castle, built by the Normans in the late 12th century.

  • The castle is an iconic symbol of the city of Belfast and of County Antrim, and it is referenced in local art, pop culture and song.
  • Today, the castle is often used for events and weddings, but visitors can also stop by for a meal at the onsite restaurant, tour the visitor's center and pick up some unique souvenirs from the antiques shop located right inside the castle.
  • Belfast Castle is located on the slopes of Cave Hill Country Park. Cave Hill is a natural landmark in Belfast that boasts five caves.
  • If you're visiting the castle, you'll also want to explore Cave Hill. Natural rock formations like Napoleon's Nose and the White Stone are archeological monuments of historic significance.
  • The Castle dates back to the 12th century. Originally, it was located right in the heart of downtown Belfast, overlooking what is now the high street.
  • In 1708, the original Castle burned down. When it was rebuilt, construction began in the new location at Cave Hill.
  • The current version was built between 1811 and 1870. Construction was overseen by the owner and resident during that time, the 3rd Marquess of Donegall.
  • By the early 20th century, financial ruin meant that the Donegall family needed to sell the house. The new owner, the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, gifted the castle to the City of Belfast in 1934.
  • Major refurbishment of the castle took place in the late 1970s. The Belfast City Council took major pains to ensure that the castle was historically accurate and safe for millions of visitors.
  • If you want to upgrade your visit, you can dine at the onsite restaurant. The Cellar Restaurant is open daily, but it is best known for its marvelous Sunday roast lunches.
  • While you're in the area, you might also want to check out the Belfast Zoo. The zoo is located within the Cave Hill Country Park, putting it just next to the castle.
  • Visitors should start in the basement, where there is plenty of information about the castle. Then, head upstairs to explore the rest of the property, including the gardens, on a self-guided tour.

You can find more information from The Irish Road Trip here.

Want More Irish Castles?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish castles!  The Emerald Isle is dotted with hundreds of these incredible structures.  

Sharing pictures and stories about them gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured the most amazing pictures and descriptions of Irish castles in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Guide to Irish Castles and Abbeys."

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email to get instant access!

That Was Fun!  Where Can I See More?

Great question! As you can see, exploring the castles of Ireland offers many opportunities for enjoying an Irish experience and expressing your personal Irish side!

For more information of this kind, you might pay a visit to our section on Ireland Sightseeing here!