Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is an amazing destination. Many visitors come with a preconceived idea of a gray city and a sad recent history. But once there, the city shows all its charms, some related to its current vitality and others that speak of a history older than expected. Precisely, Belfast Castle is one of the jewels of the city.
History of the first belfast castle
What is visited today and is known as Belfast Castle is actually the second fortress in the city. There was a previous one in the center of the capitaltoday missing.
But, unlike what happens in many other places in the world, when it was destroyed by fire in the early 18th century, Belfast’s first castle took a long time to rebuild and also when the works were undertaken in another place far from its original location.
For this reason Little remains of Belfast’s first castle, built by the Normans in the late 12th century. Except for his memory and the name of some streets in the heart of the city that recall that mythical medieval fortress.
Situation of the current Belfast Castle
The first thing that strikes the Belfast Castle that tourists visit today is its location. It is quite far from the city center, more or less 7 kilometers. Specifically in Cave Hill, a hill on which you can not only see the construction, but also enjoy impressive views of the urban complex of the capital.
You may be wondering how to get there without a car? No need to worry, because urban buses arrive to the very door of the castle. Of course, from the door to the mansion there is a walk through the most pleasant gardens.
When was Belfast Castle built?
We have already said that the original castle went up in flames at the beginning of the 18th century. As well, It was not until 1870 that the current building was erected.
Its construction was promoted by the powerful Marquess of Donegal. A character who, more than a defensive fortress, decided to build an elegant mansion that is protected by robust towers that bring sobriety and lordship to the whole.
By the way, all the general design of the work fell on Charles Lanyon, one of the most influential architects of the 19th century in Belfast, and whose works we will be told about in any guided itinerary through the streets of this city, and other Irish ones. For example, in Dublin he designed the National Gallery of Ireland.
The visit to Belfast Castle
One of the most pleasant surprises of this mansion is that the visit is free. The monument opens its doors to tourists, but the local population can also book it to hold different events there. And it even becomes the idyllic setting for the celebration of marriages.
However, since the castle is visited You should take the opportunity to visit the gardens that surround the fortress. And why not, you can taste Irish food and drink in the restaurant that opens its doors in the monument. Or, if you prefer, you can take a souvenir of the most special, entering the antique shop that is also in the castle itself.
The Cave Hill Visitor Center
Also in the basement of Belfast Castle, there is a visitor center where many other peculiarities about this place are discovered. For example, there we are told why this site is also known as the castle of cats.
Something that attracts attention, since there are them everywhere, both alive and in decoration. Which is because the legend says that its owners will be lucky, as long as a white cat lives here. And they certainly abound!
“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one who cannot be enslaved on the leash. The cat.”
And in that same visitor center They also tell us about the different caves of Cave Hill. Places once excavated by miners, but in the 20th century they were a refuge for IRA fighters.
In short, anyone who travels to the capital of Northern Ireland has an unavoidable date in its castle, since this is a place that sums up much of Belfast’s history.