Britain’s 12 Most Beautiful Castles

Locks of Great Britain.

There are many ancient castles preserved in Great Britain. Few countries in the world have left such a rich heritage. Probably it’s because of famous careful attitude of English people to their homes, expressed in a saying My house is my castle. Windsor and Buckingham Palace are familiar to all travelers, but what other castles are worth seeing in Britain? We have compiled a selection of the most beautiful, ancient and interesting castles.

Aylen-Donan

Eileen-Donan is one of the most romantic castles in the UK. It is located on a small rocky island in a Scottish fjord called Loch Duich. Its name translates as “Donan’s Castle” and is given in honor of the reclusive monk Donan of Eig, who lived in seclusion on the island in the 7th century AD.

The scenery around Eileen-Donan is magnificent. Surrounded by wooded hills, the fjord is divided into three picturesque lakes. An island with a medieval castle, to which an ancient bridge leads, fits perfectly into this picture. This place is remote from civilization, which is what attracts tourists.

Eulen Donan was built in the 13th century, when the country was ruled by Alexander II. It was a powerful fortress with a convenient location, which served as protection against the Vikings. In 1263 the castle passed into the possession of Colin Fitzgerald. This commander showed courage at the Battle of Largs, which resulted in Scotland’s acquisition of the Isle of Man and the Hebrides. Fitzgerald founded the Scottish Mackenzie clan, and Eileen-Donan Castle was for a long time their most important fortress.

In 1719, Eileen-Donan was destroyed by the British during the Jacobite Rebellion. For almost two centuries it lay in ruins. In 1911, the castle’s new owner, John McRae-Gilstrap of the Macraean clan, allies of the Mackenzies, began restoration. As a result, the castle was completely restored to its former appearance.

Eileen-Donan is now owned by a private charitable foundation that maintains and restores the castle. The Macraeus family lives in separate rooms of the castle. But the castle is open to the public for six months from March 1 to November 2. There is a fee to enter the grounds of Eileen-Donan.

Carnarvon

Carnarvon is one of Britain’s most powerful and impressive fortresses. It is part of the historic complex of medieval military architecture in Wales called “The Castles and Fortresses of King Edward I,” which is under the protection of UNESCO. The complex also includes Harlech, Conwy and Beaumaris castles. Carnarvon has the most convenient location for tourists: it is located in the town of the same name in the county of Guinet in Wales.

The first fortress on this place of the Welsh coast of the North Sea appeared before Christ: it was a wooden fort. In the 9th century AD a wooden castle of the Norman type was built here, which stood until the reign of Edward I. This English king ordered to build a new stone castle on the site of the old fortress. Several other castles were built along with it, which were supposed to strengthen English influence in Wales. Construction was completed in the 1330s.

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Carnarvon was one of the most impregnable English fortresses. From the sea it was protected by impregnable cliffs and from the land side by powerful high walls. A distinctive feature of Carnarvon’s architecture are the polygonal towers, which are associated with the towers of Constantinople. In addition, the castle walls are decorated with colored stripes, which resemble the appearance of the walls of Constantinople.

When the Tudor dynasty with Welsh roots ascended the English throne in 1485, castles in Wales no longer mattered – the English no longer needed to hold the Welsh by force. Carnarvon was abandoned and remained in disrepair until the end of the 19th century. The stone structures were well preserved, but the wooden parts had rotted away and the glass and iron had been removed. In 1870, Carnarvon began to be restored. In 1908 the castle received protection as a historic building. Soon it began to host ceremonies for the title of Prince of Wales.

The castle is open to tourists all year round. Carnarvon now houses the Museum of the Welsh Royal Rifles. It also hosts cultural events, jousting tournaments, and other historical reenactments.

Arundel

Arundel is one of the oldest castles in Britain. Its history goes back almost 1,000 years. It is located in the small settlement of Arundel, two hours from London, near Brighton and Portsmouth. It is a huge, majestic and picturesque castle, which was originally built as a defensive fortification, but over the centuries served as the residence of the dukes.

The first Arundel was of wood. It was built by Earl Roger de Montgomery, one of William the Conqueror’s entourage, in 1068. Later a donjon of stone and a church were added to the fortress, and a garden was laid out in the courtyard. In the 12th century, it was expanded and rebuilt several times. By the 17th century it was already stone, but unfortunately it was badly damaged during the civil wars. At the beginning of the 19th century it was restored during the reign of Queen Victoria. During World War II, the castle housed troops before the landing in Normandy.

After the rebellion of de Montgomery’s son against the king, the castle was confiscated and came into the possession of the Crown. In 1138, Arundel went to Adelise of Louvain, widow of King Henry I. After that, the castle became hereditary: it is owned by the descendants of Adeliza of Louvain, after the death of her family on the male line it passed to the noble family of Fitzalans, then the Dukes of Norfolk. But it did not become a family residence until the late 18th century. Now the 18th Duke of Norfolk and his family reside there.

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Arundel houses a magnificent collection of art and antiques. The castle is open to the public from March 25 to November 1. It can be reached by train to Arundel station, from which you can quickly walk to the castle. The castle is surrounded by the picturesque streets of the village of the same name, which is rich in other attractions: the Catholic cathedral, the stone bridge over the River Arun, and the ruins of a monastery.

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle has been compared to the famous Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster for the beauty of its architecture and surroundings. In the list of Britain’s most famous castles, it is the second most visited after Windsor. This castle is also notable for the fact that it was built by William the Conqueror himself. It is located in the town of Warwick in Warwickshire, in central England, on a picturesque sandstone cliff on the banks of the River Avon.

As early as the 10th century an aglosaxon fortress stood on the site of Warwick Castle, protecting it from invasion by the Danes. Construction of Warwick fortification started in 1068. William the Conqueror found a convenient location for the castle in the heart of the country, where the river and the cliff created a good natural defence. This fortress provided excellent control of the center of the country as William advanced north.

In 1088 the castle came under the ownership of the Earls of Warwick, after whom it was named. Later the fortress was seized by the future king of England, Henry II Plantagenet, who later returned the Warwick to their possession. For many generations the castle was inherited by the Warwick family.

Warwick Castle has been rebuilt more than once. Over the course of its existence, its interiors and layout have changed greatly, but the architecture has remained the same. It’s a fine example of a mighty feudal fortress and one of Britain’s most important historical monuments.

Warwick has a collection of medieval armor and paintings by old masters. The castle is surrounded by a luxurious park, which was laid out in the Middle Ages. Over the centuries, the best landscape designers in Britain have worked on it. Nowadays shows of vultures and bald eagles are held there every day. Several times a year jousting tournaments are held here.

Leeds

Leeds Medieval castle is just an hour away from London in Kent and attracts many tourists. It is a typical British castle in Norman style and sits on the banks of a river. Moreover on the territory of the castle there is a yew labyrinth, a huge aviary and an interesting museum of ancient dog collars.

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Leeds Castle was built in the 11th century by a Norman baron. Despite its fortification-like architecture, the castle was built as a palace. In 1278, it came into the possession of the kings of England. Edward I and his wife completed and renovated it, which is when Leeds acquired its modern appearance. For several centuries in a row it was the royal residence. The palace was especially magnificent under Henry VIII’s wife, Catherine of Aragon.

In 1926, Leeds went into private ownership – the palace was put up for sale, and it was purchased by the wealthy Lady Olive Baillie. She completely renovated the interiors, hiring the best British interior designers and decorators. They renovated the Queen’s bedroom and bathroom, built an oak staircase and landscaped the park. Lady Baillie collected beautiful collections of crockery, furniture, paintings and tapestries at the castle.

Surrounding Leeds are picturesque green courses, ideal for golf. You can rent the course for a fee of about £20 on a weekend. Or you can simply walk around to appreciate the beauty of the castle and the surrounding landscape from afar. Leeds offers segways for rent for this purpose.

Balmoral

Balmoral is one of Scotland’s most beautiful castles. It’s not as old as the others in our selection, but it’s no less interesting. This castle is the royal residence in Scotland. It is located in Aberdeenshire on the banks of the River Dee.

Balmoral was originally built as a royal residence by order of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. The site had been the site of an old Scottish estate since 1390. The architect of the palace was William Smith. He chose a spectacular Gothic style, which makes the castle look more antique. The walls are built of granite and decorated with sculptures of saints and heraldic symbols.

The Balmoral is notable for its interior decoration. The most splendid element of the interior is the huge central staircase with carved banisters covered with gilt. The rooms are decorated with valuable works of art. Next to the castle there is a park with a greenhouse, where exotic plants are grown.

The royal family spends several weeks a year in Balmoral, in late summer and early autumn. From April to July the castle is open for visitors: you can walk around the palace, visit the state room with portraits of pets of the kings, see the grand staircase, admire the plants in the greenhouse and drink tea in a cafe near the castle.

Top 10 the most beautiful castles of Great Britain

Old castles are as inseparable part of Britain as the traffic lights on the streets of the world or benches in the parks. There are hundreds of them in this charming country. It’s hard to choose, of course. We’re going to choose just ten.

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Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

Photo: Sofie V., www.flickr.com

The castle is located in south-east England, near Maidstone in Kent. In stone form it appeared in the 12th century. Since the castle served the kings, or rather their wives, faithfully for centuries, it was called a “ladies’ castle”.

The castle rooms have antique furniture, medieval tapestries, porcelain and paintings. There are plant mazes created for children. And the black swans floating in the lake are descendants of those given to the castle by Winston Churchill.

Leeds hosts open-air classical music concerts. Luciano Pavarotti performed here.

The Tower of London.

Photo: Edmund Huie, www.flickr.com

The famous fortress on the banks of the Thames in the historic center of London is one of the symbols of Great Britain. The Tower was built in the 11th century as a fortified defensive castle and a royal residence. Over the centuries it has been a palace, mint, zoo and observatory.

But most of all the Tower was used as a prison – until the mid-20th century. It was here that two of Henry VIII’s six wives were beheaded.

Today the well-preserved Tower welcomes thousands of tourists every day. Among its highlights are the museums containing the treasures of the British Crown.

Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle

Photo by: Mike Smith, www.flickr.com

The castle is situated in the highlands of Scotland, in Sutherland County. The Earl of Sutherland’s family lives in this stately home.

Dunrobin’s origins are in the Middle Ages, but the building was completed by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Palace of Westminster. It was restored after a fire in 1915.

Since 1973 much of the castle and grounds have been open to the public from April to October.

Framlingham Castle

Castle of Framlingham

Photo: Manolo Blanco, www.flickr.com

The castle, built at the end of the 12th century, is located in the east of England, in the county of Suffolk. For centuries it played an important historical role in the region, passing from hand to hand. It was here that Mary Tudor was proclaimed the first queen of England.

In the 17th century, the castle was donated to the local college. The castle is well preserved. Its high walls and 13 tall towers attract many tourists.

Caernarfon Castle

Carnarvon Castle

Photo: Scouse Smurf, www.flickr.com

The castle is located in north Wales, in the town of Caernarfon. A huge fortress overlooking the River St. and the Menai Strait, it looks the same today as it did when it was completed in 1330.

In addition to tours, Carnarvon often hosts national festivals. The castle has a museum of the Welsh Royal Rifles.

Warwick Castle.

Castle Warwick

Photo: Andrew Pescod, www.flickr.com

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The castle is located in the central part of England, in the town of the same name in Warwickshire. It was built by King William the Conqueror in the 11th century. In the next century it was turned from wooden to stone. It continued to be rebuilt and modernized later. In its history had a lot of events.

In the 17th century, it was the country house of Lord Fulke Greville and belonged to his descendants until 1978. The castle has seasonal attractions, knight tournaments, archery competitions and shows.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Photo: sandy hayes, www.flickr.com

The ancient and once impregnable fortress sits on the Castle Rock in the center of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. In fact it’s the main attraction of this beautiful city.

The castle holds the Crown of Scotland and the Scone Stone, on which Scottish and English monarchs were crowned. On the castle grounds is Edinburgh’s oldest building, St. Margaret’s Chapel, built in the early 12th century.

The Clock Cannon on the castle wall fires a shot every day (except Sundays) at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle

Photo: Richard Hugo, www.flickr.com

Located in East Sussex near Robertsbridge village. Built in the 14th century it is regarded as one of the best examples of a classic medieval fortress.

Today the castle still looks fabulous, with seven tall towers and water all around. But the interior of the castle is in ruins: it was damaged during the civil war of the 17th century and never recovered.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Photo: mcmillant75, www.flickr.com

The symbol of the British monarchy is located in the county of Berkshire, in the town of Windsor, in the Thames Valley. It is about an hour’s drive from London. The official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends many weekends here. The castle is called the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world.

Much of the castle is open to the public. In particular, the state apartments, the chapel of St. George. The castle is surrounded by large parks.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Photo: Gary J Brothwell, www.flickr.com

Located in the northern part of England, in the county of Northumberland. The history of the castle began in 11 century. Then it was rebuilt many times.

The castle is the residence of the Duke of Northumberland. Part of the territory is open from April to late October for tourists.

Among English inhabited castles Alnwick is in second place by size after Windsor Castle. These castles are often compared and Alnwick is called the “Windsor of the North”.

The castle houses one of Britain’s finest art collections. And he himself has repeatedly become the object of picturesque works of art. And movies about Harry Potter, “Ivanhoe”, the TV series “Downton Abbey” were filmed there.

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