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Mount StewartBelfast Castle and Mount Stewart

Tour Duration: Full Day

Depart from port of Belfast: First stop Belfast Castle and into City Centre for Lunch

Belfast Castle

The first 'Belfast Castle' was built by the Normans in the late 12th century. On the same site a stone and timber castle was erected in 1611. The home of Sir Arthur Chichester, barron of Belfast, was burned down in 1708, leaving only street names (eg Castle Place) to mark the site.

The building was completed in 1870, having far exceeded the initial estimate cost of £11,000. The Donegall fortune had dwindled so drastically that the project was nearly left unfinished. The son-in-law of the Marquis, Lord Ashley, heir to the title, Earl of Shaftesbury, stepped in and paid for its completion.

Mount StewartFrom the end of the 2nd World War until the 1970's the castle became a popular venue for wedding receptions, dances and afternoon teas. In 1978 Belfast City Council instituted a major refurbishment programme that was to continue over a period of ten years at a cost of over two million pounds. The architect this time was the Hewitt and Haslam Partnership. The building was officially re-opened to the public on 11 November 1988.

After viewing the highlights of the city - enjoy some free time in the city centre with time to have lunch on your own. After lunch drive to Mount Stewart.

Mount Stewart is one of the most unique and unusual gardens in the National Trust's ownership. The garden reflects a rich tapestry of design and great planting artistry that was the hallmark of Edith, Lady Londonderry. The mild climate of Strangford Lough allows astonishing levels of planting experimentation. The formal areas exude a strong Mediterranean feel and resemble an Italian villa landscape; the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world, ensuring something to see whatever the season. Engaging tours of the opulent house reveal its fascinating heritage and historic world-famous artefacts and artwork.

Retun to Belfast