Most, if not all, has had their share of fairy tales while they were growing up. Parents will always have several books of classic fairy tales with princesses, castles, and all sorts of interesting characters that children want to hear about over and over again. At some point in your life, you might have wondered too how it would be to live in a castle, have you not?
The UK has a lot of castles, Wales alone has more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe. To this day, it is somewhat an adventure to explore one, despite the smell of old and the lessons of history embedded in its walls.
Table of Contents
Castles, Tourism, and Inhabitants
Have you asked at some point if there are still people living in castles? Are they just around for tourism? Yes and no, some castles still have people living in them (and rightful princesses in their own rights), they partly remain private residences to families that can trace their lineage back to the owners of said castles. A lot of castles are also just for tourism, preserved for the purpose of heritage and history.
We can thank the government of each country that preserves these castles for us to see and give us insight of life back in the days. While some castles could have been places of terror to others, our imaginations when mom read us fairy tale stories say otherwise.
Have you ever wondered how castles are funded? Back in the medieval times, castles were built to protect its constituents from outside attacks. Kings order such construction and have his men commission draftsmen, blacksmiths, carpenters and other workers for menial jobs. With less modern equipment that we have now, it takes much longer to build a castle and probably more work load than today.
If we try to equate the then costs to know, it could range from 5million to 125million (source). Nowadays, it is still possible to buy or own a castle. You need to have enough capital, and an assurance that you would be able to pay your mortgage. Curious as to how much your mortgage will be? Use this mortgage calculator and have the amount of money prepared when you decide to buy one!
If buying castle is too far a reach, here are some of the best places (and 4 castles we recommend) you can visit to view them!
Aberdeen : A City Full of Castles
Aberdeen is where castles are all over the place – tour sites claim that there are over a thousand castles in this area. In this third largest city of Scotland, many visitors have discovered the grandeur of majestic castles as well as the excitement of the vibrant cosmopolitan city center.
Easily Accessible from Many Cities
It is easy to get to Aberdeen – there is actually a modern and expansive airport located right in the city. Flights to and from many cities in Europe and the United Kingdom are serviced in this airport connecting to many of other UK airports. For one, you can fly to Aberdeen from Cardiff after enjoying this beautiful, romantic city. Upon embarking, visitors can take their pick of transportation and accommodations. Of course, all these details can be planned and finalized before the trip as part of the booking process. Planning your trip around April to June would be the best time to see the fairy tale castles of Aberdeen.
Castles to Visit
The castles that you can find in this city, which is also referred to as “Scotland’s Castle and Whisky Country,” are not like most of English castles. These castles serve both to protect and to comfortably house those who live in them. These castles are residences for the rich and the elite. Among those that you should take time to see in Aberdeen are the following:
- Dunnottar Castle: Located about 20 miles south of Aberdeen, Dunnottar Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic and dramatic castles. Perched atop a cliff overlooking the North Sea, this medieval fortress has a storied history and has played a significant role in several key moments in Scottish history.
- Crathes Castle: Situated approximately 15 miles west of Aberdeen, Crathes Castle is a beautiful 16th-century tower house surrounded by stunning gardens. The castle’s turreted structure and intricate woodwork make it an enchanting sight to behold.
- Castle Fraser: About 16 miles northwest of Aberdeen, Castle Fraser is a grand castle dating back to the 15th century. With its striking pink hue and impressive interiors, it offers a glimpse into the lives of the Fraser family over the centuries.
- Fyvie Castle: Situated around 27 miles north of Aberdeen, Fyvie Castle is a historic fortress with a mix of architectural styles, ranging from medieval to Edwardian. It boasts an impressive collection of art and antique furnishings.
- Haddo House: Located about 20 miles north of Aberdeen, Haddo House is an elegant Georgian mansion with beautiful gardens and parklands. Although not a traditional castle, its grandeur and historical significance make it worth a visit.
- Slains Castle: Situated around 35 miles north of Aberdeen, Slains Castle is an atmospheric ruin perched on a cliff overlooking the North Sea. Famous for inspiring Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” the castle’s dramatic setting adds to its allure.
Visitors to Aberdeen have the opportunity to explore these nearby castles, each offering a unique experience and glimpse into Scotland’s past. Whether it’s the dramatic clifftop setting of Dunnottar Castle, the elegant interiors of Crathes Castle, or the historic charm of Fyvie Castle, the castles in the vicinity of Aberdeen provide an enriching journey into Scotland’s fascinating history and architectural heritage.
You have to pay admission fees though to get in these castles and see the amazing interiors, intricate carvings, opulent furnishings, and elegant décor. You can check their rates online as well as the times when they are open to visitors.
Wales : Most Castles Per Square Mile
Wales, a country known for its rugged landscapes, rich history, and distinct culture, is home to an impressive array of castles. Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country, making it a treasure trove for castle enthusiasts and history lovers alike. These castles reflect the nation’s tumultuous past, characterized by conflict, conquest, and power struggles. Here are some of the notable castles in Wales:
Castles to Visit
Caernarfon Castle: Located in the town of Caernarfon, this mighty fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most impressive castles in Wales. Built by King Edward I during his conquest of Wales, the castle’s imposing walls and polygonal towers served as both a royal residence and a military stronghold.
- Conwy Castle: Another of King Edward I’s magnificent fortifications, Conwy Castle stands proudly in the town of Conwy. The castle’s strategic location near the River Conwy and the sea contributed to its significance in medieval times.
- Harlech Castle: Positioned atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Irish Sea, Harlech Castle is a well-preserved example of a concentric castle. It played a crucial role in the Welsh Wars of Independence and offers breathtaking views of Snowdonia National Park.
- Cardiff Castle: Situated in the heart of the capital city, Cardiff Castle is a unique blend of Roman, Norman, and Gothic architectural styles. The site has a history spanning over 2,000 years and includes Roman fortifications, a medieval keep, and opulent Victorian-era additions.
- Pembroke Castle: Located in the town of Pembroke, this medieval fortress was the birthplace of Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch of England. The castle’s dominant position on a rocky ridge makes it an impressive sight.
- Raglan Castle: Often regarded as one of the last true castles built in Wales, Raglan Castle is a late medieval fortress with elegant architecture. Its unique polygonal towers and water-filled moat create a picturesque setting.
- Caerphilly Castle: With its massive concentric walls and extensive water defenses, Caerphilly Castle is one of the largest fortresses in Britain. It was built during the 13th century and served as a demonstration of military might and control over the local population.
- Beaumaris Castle: Situated on the Isle of Anglesey, Beaumaris Castle is another of King Edward I’s castles designed as part of his ring of iron around North Wales. Although never completed, it is a fine example of a concentric castle with its symmetrical layout and impressive defenses.
These castles, among many others scattered throughout Wales, offer a glimpse into the country’s storied past. They stand as a testament to the power struggles, conquests, and architectural prowess of different historical periods and add to the unique charm and allure of Wales as a land of castles.
Edinburgh : Scotland’s Best
Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is steeped in history and known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and rich heritage. The city is closely associated with several castles and historic fortifications that are significant to its past. Here are some of the notable castles in the vicinity of Edinburgh:
Castles to Visit
Edinburgh Castle: Dominating the city’s skyline, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic landmarks in Scotland. Perched on Castle Rock, an ancient volcanic hill, the castle has a history dating back over a millennium. It has served as a royal residence, military stronghold, and now stands as a popular tourist attraction and symbol of Scottish heritage.
- Holyrood Palace (Palace of Holyroodhouse): Located at the opposite end of the city from Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. The palace was founded in the 12th century and has been the setting for significant historical events, including the turbulent reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.
- Craigmillar Castle: Situated a short distance from the city center, Craigmillar Castle is a well-preserved medieval castle with a fascinating history. It was a place of refuge and intrigue during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her famous “Craigmillar Bond” was allegedly forged here.
- Blackness Castle: Located west of Edinburgh on the shore of the Firth of Forth, Blackness Castle is a formidable fortress built in the 15th century. It served as a royal residence and played a role in various conflicts throughout history.
- Tantallon Castle: Situated on the East Lothian coast, a short drive from Edinburgh, Tantallon Castle is a spectacular cliff-top fortress overlooking the North Sea. It was the seat of the powerful Douglas family and offers stunning panoramic views of the coastline.
- Dirleton Castle: Also located in East Lothian, Dirleton Castle is a medieval fortress with beautiful gardens. It was once a noble residence and boasts a well-preserved 13th-century keep.
- Lauriston Castle: Although not a medieval castle, Lauriston Castle is a charming 16th-century tower house located in the northwest of Edinburgh. It has undergone various renovations and is now open to the public as a museum and art gallery.
These castles in the vicinity of Edinburgh showcase the city’s historical importance and offer visitors a chance to explore Scotland’s fascinating past. From the towering presence of Edinburgh Castle to the coastal fortresses of Tantallon and Blackness, these historic sites add to the allure of this enchanting Scottish capital.
Cornwall, a county in the southwestern part of England, is rich in history and boasts a fascinating array of castles and fortifications that provide insight into its past. The region’s strategic location, surrounded by the sea on three sides, made it an important area for defense and control during various historical periods. Here are some of the notable castles in the vicinity of Cornwall.
Castles to Visit
Tintagel Castle: Tintagel Castle is perhaps one of the most famous castles in Cornwall. Perched dramatically on the rugged cliffs of the Tintagel peninsula, it is associated with the legendary King Arthur and his knights. The castle ruins date back to the medieval period, and its location offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Pendennis Castle: Located near Falmouth, Pendennis Castle was built during the reign of Henry VIII to defend against potential French and Spanish invasions. It played a crucial role in the English Civil War and stands as a well-preserved example of artillery fortifications.
- St. Mawes Castle: Situated across the Fal Estuary from Pendennis Castle, St. Mawes Castle was also constructed during the reign of Henry VIII to protect the coastline. The castle’s circular design allowed for a more versatile defense against potential threats.
- Launceston Castle: Launceston Castle is situated on a natural mound overlooking the town of Launceston. This motte-and-bailey castle dates back to the Norman era and served as an administrative center for the Earls of Cornwall.
- Restormel Castle: Found near Lostwithiel, Restormel Castle is a well-preserved circular castle dating back to the 13th century. It served as a luxurious residence for the Earl of Cornwall and offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside.
- Caerhays Castle: Although not a medieval fortress, Caerhays Castle is an impressive 19th-century mansion located near St. Austell. It was built in the Gothic Revival style and overlooks a beautiful garden and beach.
- St. Catherine’s Castle: Located near Fowey, St. Catherine’s Castle is a coastal artillery fort dating back to the 16th century. It was constructed during the reign of Henry VIII and was designed to protect Fowey Harbour from potential invaders.
These castles in Cornwall provide a glimpse into the region’s history, with their unique architecture and historical significance. They offer visitors a chance to step back in time and explore the medieval defenses and royal residences that once graced this captivating corner of England.
Castles to Visit