Top historic sites in Northern Ireland

Belfast City Hall

The site now occupied by Belfast City Hall was once the home of the White Linen Hall, an important international Linen Exchange. Plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria. This was in recognition of Belfast"s rapid expansion and thriving linen, rope-making, shipbuilding and engineering industries. Construction began in 1898 under the supervision of architect ...
Founded: 1898 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

St. Anne's Cathedral

St Anne"s Cathedral is unusual in serving two separate dioceses (Connor and Down and Dromore).  The foundation stone being laid in 1899 by the Countess of Shaftesbury. The old parish church of St Anne by Francis Hiorne of 1776 had continued in use, up until 31 December 1903, while the new cathedral was constructed around it; the old church was then demolished. The Good Samaritan window, to be seen in the ...
Founded: 1899 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum, located in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, has around 8,000 square metres of public display space, featuring material from the collections of fine art and applied art, archaeology, ethnography, treasures from the Spanish Armada, local history, numismatics, industrial archaeology, botany, zoology and geology. It is the largest museum in Northern Ireland. The Ulster Museum was founded as ...
Founded: 1929 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Botanic Gardens of Belfast

The Botanic Gardens of Belfast opened in 1828 as the private Royal Belfast Botanical Gardens. It continued as a private park for many years, only opening to members of the public on Sundays prior to 1895. Then it became a public park in 1895 when the Belfast Corporation bought the gardens from the Belfast Botanical and Horticultural Society. Occupying 28 acres (110,000 m2) of south Belfast, the gardens are popular with ...
Founded: 1828 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Parliament Building of Belfast

Parliament Buildings, often referred to as Stormont because of its location in the Stormont Estate area of Belfast, is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for the region. The need for a separate parliament building for Northern Ireland emerged with the creation of the Northern Ireland Home Rule region within Ulster in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. In 1922, a design by S ...
Founded: 1922 | Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Carrickfergus Castle

Carrickfergus castle was built by John de Courcy in 1177 as his headquarters, after he conquered eastern Ulster in 1177 and ruled as a petty king until 1204, when he was ousted by another Norman adventurer, Hugh de Lacy. Initially de Courcy built the inner ward, a small bailey at the end of the promontory with a high polygonal curtain wall and east gate. It had several buildings, including the great hall. From ...
Founded: 1177 | Location: Carrickfergus, United Kingdom

Glenarm Castle

There has been a castle at Glenarm since the 13th century, where it resides at the heart of one of Northern Ireland"s oldest estates. The present castle was built by Sir Randal MacDonnell, 1st Earl of Antrim, in 1636, and it has remained in the family since its construction. It is currently owned by Randal, Viscount Dunluce, the son of Alexander McDonnell, 9th Earl of Antrim. The McDonnells have been in Glenarm ...
Founded: 1636 | Location: Glenarm, United Kingdom

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is a ruined medieval castle located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim, and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood. In the 13th century, Richard Óg de Burgh, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Portballintrae, United Kingdom

Crom Castle

The present structure of Crom Castle was built in 1820 and, although Queen Victoria"s reign began in 1837, the building was built in the Victorian style and has since been the home to the Creighton (later Crichton) family, Earls of Erne. Crom Estate also contains the ruins of the Old Castle, a tower house, which was previously owned by the Balfour family until the Creightons acquired it in 1609. The castle is p ...
Founded: 1820 | Location: Enniskillen, United Kingdom

Enniskillen Castle

The first Enniskillen castle was built on this site by Hugh Macguire in 1428. It featured greatly in Irish rebellions against English rule in the 16th century and was taken after an eight-day siege in 1594. Captain William Cole remodelled and refurbished the castle adding the riverside tower at the south, known as the Watergate, in 1609. The castle was remodelled as “Castle Barracks” as part of the response to a thre ...
Founded: 1428 | Location: Enniskillen, United Kingdom

Bonamargy Friary

Bonamargy Friary is a late Franciscan foundation established in 1485 by Rory MacQuillan. It is said that the first battle between the warring MacDonnell and MacQuillan clans was fought on nearby land. At the main entrance to the friary is a small, two storey gatehouse which opens into a store and workroom. Well worn steps lead directly to the dormitory above. Traces of an altar can still be found in the adjoining chu ...
Founded: 1485 | Location: Ballycastle, United Kingdom

Dundrum Castle

Dundrum Castle, situated above the town of Dundrum, County Down, Northern Ireland, should not to be confused with Dundrum Castle in Dundrum, County Dublin. It was constructed by John de Courcy, sometime near the beginning of the 13th century, following his invasion of Ulster. The castle, built to control access into Lecale from the west and south, stands on the top of a rocky hill commanding fine views south over D ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dundrum, United Kingdom

Grey Abbey

Grey Abbey is a ruined Cistercian priory in the village of Greyabbey. It was founded in 1193, by John de Courcy"s wife, Affreca (daughter of Godred Olafsson, King of the Isles), as a daughter house of Holmcultram Abbey in Cumbria. It had declined by the late Middle Ages and was dissolved in 1541. It was burnt out by Brian O"Neill in 1572. It was granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery who re-roofed the ...
Founded: 1193 | Location: Greyabbey, United Kingdom

Inch Abbey

Inch Abbey is a large, ruined monastic site north-west of Downpatrick. The site was originally on an island in the Quoile Marshes. The pre-Norman Celtic monastic settlement here was in existence by the year 800. In 1002 it was plundered by the Vikings. The Vikings plundered the settlement again in 1149. Its large earthwork enclosure has been traced from aerial photographs. On the ground, the early bank and ditch ca ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Ballynoe Stone Circle

Ballynoe Stone Circle is a large and complex site which appears as a large circle of over 50 closely spaced upright stones, some as much as six feet tall, with some small gaps, surrounding a space about 110 ft across. Two of the fallen stones have cavities which could be artificial cup-marks. The stones of the outer circle are nearly all composed of local Silurian grit, but a few are granite erratics. Two of the stone ...
Founded: 3000 BCE | Location: Downpatrick, United Kingdom

Nendrum Monastery

Nendrum Monastery may have been founded in the 5th century, but this is uncertain. The monastery came to an end at some time between 974 and 1178, but its church served a parish until the site was abandoned in the 15th century. Some remains of the monastery can still be seen. Dendrochronology has dated a tide mill on the island to the year 619, making this the oldest excavated tide mill anywhere in the world. The mona ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Comber, United Kingdom

Devenish Monastic Site

Devenish Island contains one of the finest monastic sites in Northern Ireland. A round tower thought to date from the twelfth century is situated on the island, as are the walls of the Oratory of Saint Molaise who established the monastery in the 6th century, on a pilgrim route to Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. It became a centre of scholarship and although raided by Vikings in 837 and burned in 1157, it late ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Devenish, United Kingdom

Greencastle

In a beautiful setting with excellent views of the Mourne Mountains and Carlingford Lough, Greencastle is mainly 13th-century in date. It was built at royal expense and guarded the southern approach to the Anglo-Norman Earldom of Ulster. After capturing the town of Carrickfergus in 1315/16, a Scottish army under Edward Bruce headed to the important town of Dundalk, one of the seats of Anglo-Norman power in Ireland. It wa ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kilkeel, United Kingdom

Killyleagh Castle

Killyleagh Castle dominates the small village and is believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in the country, with parts dating back to 1180. It follows the architectural style of a Loire Valley château, being redesigned by architect Sir Charles Lanyon in the mid-19th century. It has been owned by the Hamilton family since the early 17th century. Killyleagh was settled in the 12th century by Norman knight John ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Killyleagh, United Kingdom

Narrow Water Castle

Narrow Water Castle is a famous 16th-century tower house and bawn near Warrenpoint. In 1212, a keep was built on the site by Hugh de Lacy, first Earl of Ulster, to prevent river-borne attacks on Newry. In the 1560s, the tower house and bawn were built. It is a typical example of the tower houses built throughout Ireland from the 14th until the early 17th century. This kind of building, normally rectangular in p ...
Founded: 1560s | Location: Warrenpoint, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was built originally in the 15th century for the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Royal Palace in the Lower Castle evolved over the years and prospered during the 16th and mid-17th centuries. For four centuries the palace was the political, administrative and cultural center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Soon after the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was incorporated into Tsarist Russia, Tsarist officials ordered the demolition of the remaining sections of the Royal Palace. The Palace was almost completely demolished in 1801, the bricks and stones were sold, and the site was bowered. Only a small portion of the walls up to the second floor survived, that were sold to a Jewish merchant Abraham Schlossberg around 1800 who incorporated them into his residential house. After the 1831 uprising, the czarist government expelled Schlossberg and took over the building as it was building a fortress beside it. Before the Second World War it was the office of the Lithuanian Army, during the World War II it was the office of the German Army, and after World War II it was used by Soviet security structures and later transformed into the Palace of Pioneers. Fragments of Schlossberg's house have become part of the Eastern Wing of the restored Royal Palace.

A new palace has been under construction since 2002 on the site of the original building. The Royal Palace was officially opened during the celebration of the millennium of the name of Lithuania in 2009.