Belvedere House, County Westmeath
Fee-Paying Tourist Attraction in Ireland #21
Belvedere House and Gardens are located just outside the bustling town of Mullingar, just off the main Dublin to Galway motorway. The house is about an hours drive from Dublin and about half-way to Athlone from Dublin so if you are making the drive from the capital city to Athlone or on to Galway and the West of Ireland then Belvedere is on the way. Be warned though, this is not a place for a quick stop-off!
Apart from the tour of the restored house, the grounds boast some excellent lake-side walks, a very fine walled garden with extensive flower borders that would even rival those found at Powerscourt in Wicklow. A kids playground and some farm animals are located beside the modern food court and shopping area. There is lots to see and do!
The tour of the house is fascinating. There are some notorious stories of the owners of Belvedere, the Rochforts, and in particular Robert Rochfort who had his wife locked away for 31 years. He built a massive wall that still stands, just to obscure the view afforded by his brother who lived nearby - the infamous 'Jealous Wall'. These were very strange people!
The house was built in 1740 and is set on 160 acres of parkland and lakes. Belvedere House was bought by the Irish State in 1982 and has undergone much renovation. The house is not especially big but is noted for its Diocletian Windows and dramatic nineteenth-century terracing as well as the superb Rococo plasterwork on the interior ceilings. The house and grounds are occasionally host to weekend music festivals and to intimate garden theatre performances.
Beyond the main building children will love exploring the Greenhouse as well as the Fairy Garden that is attached to the walled garden and flower beds. The Playground and fine Cafe will interest them also but bring them for a walk around the forest grounds first! Down by the Lake and around to the Ice House and Gothic Arch.
You could easily spend half a day or more exploring Belvedere. Bring a picnic and have a ramble. Well worth a visit.
Find out more here: http://www.belvedere-house.ie
Video about Belvedere House, County Westmeath
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