‘Best Castles in Scotland’ To Explore

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Best Castles in Scotland

Scotland, a land of untamed landscapes and rich history, is a haven for castle enthusiasts. These stone fortresses, some of which date back over a thousand years, tell tales of epic battles, royal grandeur, and mysterious legends.

From the Highlands to the Lowlands, Scotland’s castles are scattered across a dramatic backdrop of mountains, lochs, and cliffs.

In this article, we will delve into the top 10 best castles in Scotland that are not just architectural marvels but also capsules of history and culture. Buckle up for a time-traveling adventure through Scotland’s most iconic strongholds.

Best Castles in Scotland

Best Castles in Scotland to Explore

Embark on an exploration of the top 10 best castles in Scotland. From tales of gallant knights to architectural wonders, these castles offer a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Commanding a panoramic view of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh Castle is perhaps the most iconic of all Scottish castles. Housing the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, this fortress has played a central role in Scotland’s history. Don’t miss the daily firing of the One o’Clock Gun, a tradition dating back to 1861.

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2. Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is synonymous with Scottish independence, having been the backdrop for several important battles, including the Battle of Stirling Bridge. A visit to this castle offers intricate Renaissance architecture and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

3. Eilean Donan Castle

Set against the meeting point of three sea lochs, Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. Restored in the early 20th century, it now serves as both a home and a museum showcasing medieval life.

4. Urquhart Castle

Overlooking the famous Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle offers a unique combination of natural beauty and historical significance. Though in ruins, the castle still gives a clear idea of the grandeur it once held, especially the tower house that dominates the layout.

5. Dunnottar Castle

Perched atop a cliff overlooking the North Sea, Dunnottar Castle is a ruin that encapsulates the essence of romance and tragedy. Famous for its role in the movie ‘Braveheart,’ it also has a captivating history, including its part in hiding the Scottish Crown Jewels from Oliver Cromwell’s invading army.

6. Glamis Castle

Known for its fairy-tale appearance, Glamis Castle gained worldwide fame as the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. With its turreted towers and expansive gardens, this castle offers a peek into royal life and the luxuries of the aristocracy.

7. Culzean Castle

Situated atop a cliff overlooking the Firth of Clyde, Culzean Castle is a marvel of 18th-century architecture. Its oval staircase and elegant furnishings make it a popular destination for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.

8. Inveraray Castle

Located on the western shore of Loch Fyne, Inveraray Castle is a striking example of Gothic Revival architecture. It’s known for its beautiful interiors, including a weapon room that contains an extensive collection of antique arms and armory.

9. Doune Castle

Famous as a filming location for ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’ Doune Castle is more than just a pop culture icon. Built in the late 14th century, this fortress offers well-preserved chambers and an impressive 100-foot-high gatehouse.

10. Castle Stalker

Accessible only by boat, Castle Stalker sits on a small island in Loch Laich. Known for its picturesque setting, this castle has changed hands multiple times and has a history filled with clan warfare and royal intrigue.

Things to Consider When Visiting Scottish Castles

Accessibility: Some castles are located in remote areas. Make sure to plan your travel accordingly.

Admission Fees: Most castles have an admission fee, and some offer guided tours for an additional charge.

Season: Keep in mind that certain castles may be closed or have limited hours during the off-season.

Accommodation Options Near Scottish Castles

For those looking to soak in the medieval aura even after the sun sets, several castles offer on-site accommodation or are located near charming bed and breakfasts. For example, near Edinburgh Castle, you’ll find numerous hotels and guesthouses that cater to various budgets.

Exploring Castle Interiors

While many Scottish castles boast impressive exteriors, their interiors are equally enchanting. Don’t miss out on the art collections, antique furniture, and historic tapestries that often adorn the halls and chambers. Glamis Castle and Inveraray Castle, for instance, offer spectacular interior tours.

Local Folklore and Legends

Every castle has its legends and myths, adding a layer of intrigue to your visit. For example, Urquhart Castle is popular among those hoping to spot the Loch Ness Monster, while Eilean Donan Castle is said to be haunted. A guided tour often includes these interesting tidbits.

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Conclusion

Scotland’s castles are more than just stone and mortar; they are embodiments of the nation’s turbulent history and cultural heritage. From the majestic Edinburgh Castle to the secluded Castle Stalker, each fortress tells a story that is uniquely Scottish.

A visit to these top 10 best castles offers not just a history lesson but also a captivating experience that will stay with you long after you’ve returned home.

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