and Picturesque Castles around the WorldAt the
center of every fairy tale is a castle with towers and parapets. The original
castles were rustic fortresses designed for war. Centuries later, castles
became lavish and often fanciful expressions of power, wealth, and luxury. For
castle enthusiasts everywhere, here's a roundup of some of the world's most
romantic castles, including medieval castles and modern-day recreations of
1. Dunguaire CastleSubsequently
the castle became the property of Shannon Development. Today the restored
castle gives an insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived from 1520 to
century tower house in Kinvara, County Galway,
Dunguaire Castle is one of the most
often photographed castles in Ireland.
The tower is 75 feet
tall and has been restored.
History of Dunguaire Castle
Dunguarie Castle was built in 1520 by
the O’Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay.
The Castle takes it name from the nearby ancient fort of Guaire, King of
Connaught who died is 662 AD. This
restored 16th century tower house sits on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Galway Bay, 300 yards outside the
early 17th century the castle passed into the hands of the Martyn’s of Galway. Richard Martyn, Mayor of Galway lived here until
1642 and the Martyn’s of Tulira
Castle, owned the castle
until this century.
of Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire was bought and repaired by Oliver St. John Gogarty, the famous surgeon and literary figure. This was the
time of the great Celtic revival in Irish literature exemplified by the works
of writers such as Synge, Yeats Shaw and O'Casey. It became the venue for
meetings of the literary revivalists such as W.B. Yeats, his patron Lady
Gregory, George Bernard Shaw, Edward Martin and J.M. Synge. Yeats in particular
believed strongly in the Celtic Cardic Tradition and set about reviving the
ancient oral customs incorporating them into his plays and poetry. In 1954 the castle was acquired by Christobel Lady Amptill who completed the
restoration started by Olive St Gogarty.
Palace in Granada, Spain
Alhambra Palace, or Red Castle,
in Granada, Spain was a finalist in the
campaign to select the New 7 Wonders of the World.
a hilly terrace on the southern edge of Granada,
>Spain, Alhambra is an ancient palace and fortress
complex with stunning frescoes and interior details. The Alhambra Palace
was first constructed in the mid-1300s and later renovated and modified in the
16th century by King Charles V. As a result, European features mingle with some
of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in world.
The Alhambra CommentaryOver
subsequent centuries the Moorish art was further damaged, and, in 1812, some of
the towers were destroyed by the French under Count Sebastiani, while the whole
building narrowly escaped the same fate. Napoleon had tried to blow up the
whole complex. Just before his plan was carried out, a soldier who secretly wanted
the plan of Napoleon - his commander - to fail, defused the explosives and thus
saved the Alhambra
for posterity. In 1821, an earthquake caused further damage.
The work of restoration undertaken in 1828 by the architect José Contreras was
endowed in 1830 by Ferdinand VII; and after the death of Contreras in 1847, it
was continued with fair success by his son Rafael (d. 1890) and his grandson.
Designed to reflect the very beauty of Paradise itself, the Alhambra is made up of gardens, fountains,
streams, a palace, and a mosque, all within an imposing fortress wall, flanked
by 13 massive towers.
hill overlooking Granada, the Alhambra—a sprawling palace-citadel that
comprised royal residential quarters, court complexes flanked by official
chambers, a bath, and a mosque - was begun in the thirteenth century by Ibn
al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty, and was continued by his successors in
the fourteenth century. Its most celebrated portions - a series of courtyards
surrounded by rooms - present a varied repetoire of Moorish arched, columnar, and
domical forms. The romantic imagination of centuries of visitors has been
captivated by the special combination of the slender columnar arcades,
fountains, and light-reflecting water basins found in those courtyards - the Lion
Court in particular; this combination is understood from inscriptions to be a
physical realization of descriptions of Paradise in Islamic poetry."
Art of the Alhambra
decorations within the palaces typified the remains of Moorish dominion within Spain and ushered in the last great period of
Andalusian art in Granada.
With little influence from the Islamic mainland, artists
endlessly reproduced the same forms and trends, creating a new style that
developed over the course of the Nasrid Dynasty. The Nasrids used freely all
the display of stylistical resorts that had been created and developed during
eight centuries of Muslim rule in the Peninsula as the Calliphal horse-shoe
arch, the Almohad sebka or the Almoravid palm, and unused combinations of them,
beside novelties as the stilted arches and the capitals of muqarnas, among
others. The isolation with the rest of the Islam, and the commercial and
political relationship with the Christian kingdoms also influenced in the space
concepts. Columns, muqarnas and stalactite-like ceiling decorations, appear in
several chambers, and the interiors of numerous palaces are decorated with
arabesques and calligraphy. The arabesques of the interior are ascribed, among other
kings, to Yusef I, Mohammed V, and Ismail I.
produced in Later Era After the Christian conquest of the city in 1492, the
conquerors began to alter the Alhambra.
The open work was filled up with whitewash, the painting and gilding effaced,
and the furniture soiled, torn, or removed. Charles V
(1516–1556) rebuilt portions in the Renaissance style of the period and
destroyed the greater part of the winter palace to make room for a
Renaissance-style structure which has never been completed. Philip V
(1700–1746) Italianised the rooms and completed his palace in the middle of
what had been the Moorish building; he had partitions constructed which blocked
up whole apartments.
|3 Biltmore Estate|
Estate in Asheville, North Carolina took hundreds of workers five
years to complete.
Morris Hunt, architect
Law Olmsted, landscape design
Asheville, North Carolina
House is a French Renaissance inspired chateau near Asheville, North Carolina,
built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1888 and 1895. It is the largest
privately owned home in the United
States at 175,000 square feet
and featuring 250 rooms. Still owned by one of Vanderbilt's descendants, it
stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age.
In 2007, it was ranked eighth on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by
the American Institute of Architects.
in the style of a French Renaissance chateau, the Biltmore has 255 rooms. At 175,000 square feet
meters), the Biltmore is the largest privately owned
home in the United States.
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the gardens and grounds
surrounding the mansion.
descendants still own Biltmore Estate, but it is now open for tours. Visitors
can spend the night at an adjacent inn.
|4. Neuschwanstein Castle|
King Ludwig's most famous castle. With its turrets and mock-medievalism, its
interior styles ranging from Byzantine through Romanesque to Gothic its a real
fairy-tale fantasy come true. It was built between 1869 and 1886. Only about a
third of the building was actually completed.The castle reveals its splendor to the
visitors in the king's bedroom. The magnificence could be seen from the
architecture to the frescos, paintings, carved works, mosaics and ornaments,
furniture and decorations. Innumerable artists worked there: painters,
sculptors, carvers, joiners, glass painters, art smiths, locksmiths,
decorators, seamstresses and embroiderers. They created works from their own
imagination with highest craft skill by using historical design.
The 15 rooms astonishing craftsmanship and
richness of detail.Woodcarving in Ludwig's bedroom took 14 carpenters 4 1/2
years to complete. Wagner's operas feature everywhere in the form of murals.
The best view of the castle and a 45m waterfall is from the nearby Mary's
Bridge (Marienbruecke), which spans a deep gorge. On the path between the
bridge and the castle is a wonderful view of Hohenschwangau and the Alpsee.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria ordered to build this castle to
express his idea of being a king. The planning was first made by the royal
master-builder Eduard Riedel and as result a building was designed that was
determined as a monumental Romanesque castle. The scene-painter Christian Jank
made major contributions to the plans. The work started in 1869 with the tower
5. Johnstown Castle
between great Victorian revival castles and their surrounding ornamental
grounds is rarely seen to such perfection as at Johnstown Castle.
woodlands and lakes of this demesne provide the perfect setting for this
turreted, battlemented and machicolated castle of gleaming silver-grey ashlar,
built for the Grogan-Morgan family between 1810 and 1855 and incorporating part
of a more ancient castle. The
property was presented as a gift to the Irish
1945 and was later occupied by the Department of Agriculture who established an
agricultural institute here and undertook to maintain but not to alter the
The Kilkenny architect Daniel
Robertson, who was responsible for some of the building work on the castle, is
generally believed to have laid out and planted much of the grounds in the
1830s. This would have included the digging of the five-acre lake opposite the
castle with Gothic towers rising from its waters and a terrace lined with
statues on the opposite bank. Many fine trees and shrubs grow in the vicinity
of the castle,
two lovely examples of Cryptomeria
'Elegans', several very fine redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), a huge
Rhododendron arboreum and some of the oldest and largest specimens of Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) in Ireland.
The variety of mixed planting around the lake, which includes noble firs,
Japanese cedars, Atlantic blue cedars, copper beeches, golden Lawson cypresses
and holm oaks, provides a very satisfying range of colour through much of the
year. In the area to the west of the castle lake, visitors will pass through a
woodland garden created around the ruined medieval castle of Rathlannon.
exotic foliage of a Magnolia wilsonii from China
borders a large, elegant dogwood (Cornus kousa) from Japan and a Japanese snowball
(Viburnum plicatum) with tiered
spreading branches. Nearby lies a
two-acre lake dug in the 1860s, while in the area to the north is a four-acre
walled garden built between 1844 and 1851 and rehabilitated by the Department
entered through the Devil's Gate, an arched
with gargoyles that leads onto a very long gravel path lined with flower
borders and backed by clipped hedges. To the tight across mowed lawns a long
hothouse shelters a colourful display of plants through out the year. Steps
lead to the Upper
Garden, now largely
devoted to shrub propagation, and the old melon yard. Here no one will fail to
admire a tender dwarf Japanese maple planted in the 1880s and a range of
azaleas, magnolias and hibiscus.
attractions at Johnstown include a cemetery with
very fine wrought-iron gates made in Italy,
the site of the sunken Italian
Garden close to the car
park, and the lower lake, dug in the 1850s and covering some fourteen acres.
All three lakes in the demesne provide a home for a wide range of waterfowl -
mute swans, moorhens, coots, little grebes, herons and a recently introduced
flock of mallards - all of which help to control the waterweeds. The attractive
early nineteenth century farm buildings to the north of the lower
the Irish Agricultural Museum
where a variety of old horticultural implements are on display.
6. Abbassid Castle, Baghdad, Iraq
Abbassid Palace near North
Gate, on the river. It is
believed to have been built by the Caliph Al-Nasser li Dinallah (A.D. 1179 -
1225), in whose reigen other notable institutions were built. It has a central
courtyard and two stories of rooms, with beautiful arches and muqarnases in
brickwork. It has a remarkable ewan with brickwork ceiling and facade.
When it was
partly reconstructed in recent times another ewan was built to face it. Because
of the palace's resemblance in plan and structure to Mustansiriyah
School, som scholars believe it is
actually the Sharabiya
School, mentioned by the
old Arab historians. Parts of the building were reconstructed by the State
Establishment of Antiquities and Heritage, whereupon a collection of historical
remains were exhibited in it representing certain stages of the country's Arab
|7. Hearst Castle|
Hearst Castle is the palatial estate built by
newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It is located near San
Simeon, California, on a hill
overlooking the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Los Angeles
and San Francisco.
Donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of California
in 1957, it is now a State
and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours. Hearst formally named
the estate "La
Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill"), but
he usually just called it "the ranch". The castle and grounds are
also sometimes referred to as "San Simeon" without distinguishing
between the Hearst property and the unincorporated town of the same name.
Hearst Castle was built on a 40,000 acre (160 km²)
ranch that William Randolph Hearst's father, George Hearst, originally
purchased in 1865. The younger Hearst grew fond of this site over many
childhood family camping trips. He inherited the ranch, which had grown to 250,000 acres (1,000
km²), from his mother, Phoebe Hearst, upon her death in 1919. Construction
began that same year and continued through 1947, when he stopped living at the
estate due to ill health. San
Francisco architect Julia Morgan designed most of the
buildings. Hearst was an inveterate tinkerer, and would tear down structures
and rebuild them at a whim. For example, the opulent Neptune Pool was rebuilt
three times before Hearst was satisfied. As a consequence of Hearst's
persistent design changes, the estate was never completed in his lifetime.The estate
is a pastiche of historic architectural styles that Hearst admired in his
travels around Europe. For example, the main
house is modeled after a 16th century Spanish cathedral, while the outdoor
swimming pool features an ancient Roman temple front transported wholesale from
Europe and reconstructed at the site. Hearst furnished the estate with
truckloads of art, antiques, and even whole ceilings that he acquired in their
entirety from Europe and Egypt.
Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms,
19 sitting rooms, 127
acres (0.51 km2) of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming
pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest
private zoo. Zebras and other exotic animals still roam the grounds. Morgan, an
accomplished civil engineer, devised a gravity-based water delivery system from
a nearby mountain. One highlight of the estate is the Neptune Pool, which
features an expansive vista of the mountains, ocean and the main house.
to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its
heyday in the 1920s and '30s. The Hollywood and
political elite often visited, usually flying into the estate's airfield or
taking a private Hearst-owned train car from Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the
Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart,
Bob Hope, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill were among
Hearst's A-list guests. While guests were expected to attend the formal dinners
each evening, they were normally left to their own devices during the day while
Hearst directed his business affairs. Since "the Ranch" had so many
facilities, guests were rarely at a loss for things to do. The estate's theater
usually screened films from Hearst's own movie studio, Cosmopolitan
Castle became so famous
that it was caricatured in the 1941 Orson Welles film Citizen Kane as Charles
Foster Kane's "Xanadu". The estate is portrayed as a gloomy and
ridiculously self-indulgent barony.
condition of the Hearst Corporation's donation of the estate was that the
Hearst family would be allowed to use it when they wished. Patty Hearst, a
granddaughter of William Randolph, related that as a child, she hid behind
statues in the Neptune Pool while tours passed by. Although the main estate is
now a museum, the Hearst family continues to use an older Victorian house on
the property as a retreat — the original house built by George Hearst in the
late 19th century. The house is screened from tourist routes by a dense grove
of eucalyptus, to provide maximum privacy for the guests. In 2001, Patty Hearst
hosted a Travel Channel show on the estate, and Amanda Hearst modeled for a
fashion photo shoot at the estate for a Hearst Corporation magazine, Town and
Country, in 2006.
8. Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands
Age castle built for a tragic lovePerhaps the
couples are drawn by the romantic story surrounding the castle. Or, perhaps,
they sense that the mismatched towers and quirky ornaments say something
important about love.
An aura of
romance surrounds the five-acre Boldt Castle estate in the Thousand Islands, just offshore
from Alexandria Bay, New York. Stone by stone, Boldt Castle
was built for love, but it was a love that ended tragically.
Boldt Castle is not a real castle, of course,
but a fairy tale version of one. It's a jigsaw puzzle of medieval and Victorian
styles pieced together by the firm of W.D. Hewitt and G.W. Hewitt - the same
architects who designed the fanciful Druim Moir castle in Philadelphia.
homes from America's
Gilded Age, the eleven-building complex is exuberant and outrageous, as though
its creators had taken five hundred years of architectural history and spilled
it across the craggy island.
it that multi-millionaire George Boldt ordered the castle built as a
testimonial of his love for his wife, Louise. She was only fifteen when they
married, and she had worked at his side during his climb to wealth and
prominence. Boldt planned to present the castle to Louise on Valentine's Day,
Of all the
grand summer homes in the Thousand Islands, Boldt Castle
was to be the most magnificent. More than 300 artisans, masons, stonecutters,
landscapers, and other craftsmen were hired. The Alster Tower
would be a gigantic playhouse with a bolling alley, a billiard room, a library,
bedrooms, and kitchen areas.
House would hold a steam-powered generator for power and lights. The Yacht
House would shelter the family houseboat and boats from visitors. But the
crowning jewel would be a 120-room home modeled after a Rhineland
castle and furnished with paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and tapestries from
around the world. This grand
design was never completed, however. Construction halted when a sudden tragedy
struck the young family. One year
before Boldt castle was to be completed, Louise, aged 41, died. Brokenhearted,
George Boldt stopped the construction and never returned to the island. Boldt
died in 1916 and the castle was purchased by Edward John Noble, who owned the
Beechnut Fruit Company. Noble invested in the area and built the Thousand
Island Club. Over the next 50 years, the E.J. Noble Foundation ran Boldt Castle
as a tourist attraction.
were allowed to roam the island freely, and the castle became a victim of
vandals who broke windows, covered walls with graffiti, and stripped buildings
of ornamental details. Roofs leaked, timbers deteriorated, plaster peeled from
walls. A fire destroyed all but the stone shell of the Powerhouse. There is,
however, a happy ending. In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired
the estate and began restorations. Windows and roofs were repaired. The Power
House was rebuilt and the ballroom was converted into a museum. Couples came to
summer you will see the wedding couples sail down the Saint
Lawrence River, glide beneath an arched water gate modeled after
Roman monuments, and say their vows on a stone bridge leading to a fanciful
assembly of peaked turrets.
9. Prague Castle
thousand years Prague Castle in the Hradcany royal complex has towered
above the river Vltava. Industrious building
on the castle began in the late 9th century when the royal Premyslid family
took power over the united Czech territories. Saint George Basilica, Saint
Vitus Cathedral, and a convent were erected within the fortress walls.
Premyslid family died out in the 14th century, and the castle fell into
disrepair. Under the leadership of Charles IV, the castle was transformed into
a prestigious gothic palace.
complex was again remodeled under reign of Vladislav Jagellonský. His throne
room is praised for for its expansive vaults with intricate network of intertwined
ribs. The Archbishop's Palace was rebuilt from its Renaissance foundations.
In the late
1500s, during the reign of Rudolf II, Italian architects built a new palace
with two big halls. The "New World,"
a district with modest homes along winding alleyways, was also constructed
within the Hradcany compound. The Castle
became the seat of the president of the Republic in 1918, but large sections
were closed to the public during the years of communist domination. Vast,
secret underground shelters were supposedly built to connect the President's
residence with the rest of the complex. The paranoia of the era gave rise to
fears that counter-revolutionaries might use the passageways, so the exits were
hastily blocked off with concrete slabs.
|10. Leeds Castle in England|
queens and kings of England
as well as an American millionairess with movie-star friends, Leeds Castle
has stood for centuries in Maidstone,
Kent. Today Leeds
Castle is open to the
public, who are welcome to visit its restored rooms and 500 picture-perfect
Set in a
valley of the River Len in the heart of the English countryside, Leeds Castle
is a thoroughly romantic location. The castle itself, surrounded by the lake,
is a treasure trove of art, antiques, and history. Leeds Castle's history includes romance and
intrigue, conflict and majesty. Although Edward I, Edward III, Richard II, and
Henry V all held court at Leeds
Castle, it has long been
known as a ladies' castle.
aka the Ladies' Castle
to 1552, it was customary for the castle to be part of a queen’s dowry and
retained during widowhood. Queen Isabella, Anne of Bohemia, and Joan of Navarre
all once resided in Leeds
Castle. The Queen’s
Bedroom and Bathroom at Leeds Castle are reconstructions of chambers used by
Catherine de Valois [1401 – 1437], wife of Henry V, who stayed at Leeds Castle
on many occasions. Brought by him from France as a young bride, she was
widowed by the age of 22. When a secret affair with the commoner Owen Tudor was
revealed in subsequent years, scandal ensued. Nonetheless, the two had four
sons, one of whom fathered King Henry VII.
perhaps the most famous of all royal owners, was responsible for much of Leeds Castle’s
splendor. He spent lavishly to transform the castle from a rugged fortress into
a royal palace. The Henry VIII Banqueting Hall bears testament to this
reconstruction, and retains features dating from 1517.
owner of Leeds Castle, Lady Baillie was an
American-born heiress to the Whitney fortune. She purchased the castle in 1926
for $873,000, beating out Randolph Hearst, the newspaper tycoon, as high
Baillie devoted the rest of her life to restoring the Norman castle and rolling
parkland that surrounds it. And she brought Hollywood
glamour to the surroundings. A society hostess, Lady Baillie's guests included
Jimmy Stewart, Errol Flynn, and Charlie Chaplin. When Lady
Baillie died in 1974, she left Leeds
Castle to a charitable
trust which ensures its enjoyment by the public and also promotes the castle
for weddings and national and international seminars.
Exploring Leeds Castle
to the castle itself, visitors to Leeds can
The Maze -
Planted with 2,400 yew trees in 1988, the maze at Leeds Castle
challenges visitors to reach the panoramic central viewing point. (No need to
fear getting lost; staffers perched high in the center help to guide the
direction-impaired through this topiary castle.)
- More than 100 species of rare and colorful birds including macaws, cockatoos,
and toucans are housed in the outdoor aviary.
The Dog Collar
Museum - Certainly one of
the world's most unusual collections, the Dog Collar Museum displays nearly 100
antique dog collars spanning five centuries. Collars dating from the 15th,
16th, and 17th centuries were designed to protect a dog during a time when
wolves, bears, and wild boar roamed the forests of Europe
and the vulnerable throats of hunting dogs needed protection with broad iron
collars bristling with fearsome spikes. The Dog Collar Museum also houses Leeds Castle's
small gift shop.
Culpeper Garden - This quintessential English
garden features neat box hedges enclosing traditional colorful perennials and
fragrant annuals such as roses, pinks, lupins, and poppies.
- More than 8,000 bottles of wine are produced each year from the castle
wines are sold exclusively in the castle restaurant and shops.
Leeds Castle offers couples four stunning and
historic settings for a fairytale wedding: The Library, Dining Room, Gate
House, and Terrace. In addition to a choice of venues for wedding receptions
suitable for banquets as well as smaller gatherings, the castle has 37 rooms
available for newlyweds and their guests to stay over. Leeds Castle wedding services include a butler,
flower arrangements by the castle’s own florist, and wines and champagnes from
the castle’s extensive Norman cellars.