My inner princess never thought this was possible. My own country has a history of around 150 settled human years, so the magic of walking through thousands of years of history never quite loses the unique frisson of delight.
Suits of armour that tell tales of bravery and hardship, kitchen hearths
that fed hundreds of (in)famous dignatories and hard working servants,
windows that saw enemy arches living up their longbows and sighing
maidens dreaming of their loves, moats that were filled with all sorts
of exotic contents and drafty castles walls that witnessed history that
changed the lives of nations.
Yeah, I’ve got the castle wandering bug bad. If there is a castle or
palace near where we are (and by near I mean within 2 hours train ride)
you can guarantee that I’ll be making my way there, scheming how to get
closer or researching ways to sleep there (Prince Harry, watch out).
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Known by locals as ‘Buck House’ the home of our Commonwealth Queen was everything thing I thought it would be –
ostentatious, sumptuous and amazing. Just what a Palace should be. As important to the British psyche as Tea,
wellies and apologising for other people bumping into you, the Royal
family is an institution. Britain (/England/the United Kingdom/whatever)
simply wouldn’t be the same without the bastion of the eccentric royal
family: the Queen’s imperious waves, Prince Philips gaffes, Charles
& Camilla’s love affair and Kate and Williams rock-star icon just
adds such a soupcon to the mystique of Britain.
Pena Palace, Sintra Portugal
Quirkily gorgeous, the Palacio Nacional da Pena is one of the finest
tourist attractions of Portugal and exemplifies the 19th century
Romanticism style of architecture with a twist of sheer imagination. The curiously crenelated collection of beautiful rooms crest a collection of beautiful palaces in the town of Sintra.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany.
On our visit, leaving behind the crowds in the busy parking lot (there
are a couple of family castles that can also be visited) we walked up
the hill towards Neuschwenstein. Leaving Mr Kiwi to enjoy the fresh
mountain air, I took in the guided tour through the unique rooms created
solely for Ludwig’s use – even the servants had separate hallways
running alongside. From an ornately carved bedroom to a man made cave
and private theatre room, the castle that inspire Walt Disney’s cartoon
glory was curious to say the least…
Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey), Highclere, England
They say never meet your heroes as you’ll only be disappointed when
their humanity is revealed, but I say ignore that entirely. Sometimes
you have to. Sometimes you have to get on that train, walk through those
gates and simply revel in the crazy amazingness that is England. Case
in point – Downton Abbey. Wait, I mean Highclere Castle…
Winchester Castle, Winchester, England
Housing the Arthurian Round Table of myth and legend (though sadly actually slightly more modern in construction – only commissioned by King
Henry in the 13th Century, rather than 6th as they originally
thought) Winchester Cathedral is well worth a wander – especially in winter…
Strawberry Hill House, Richmond, London
Hidden in the opulent suburb of Twickenham, (aka Surrey) a gothic castle of dreamy spires quietly rests. Each new room seemed like walking into a fairytale princess’ room – in
fact my friend struggled the whole way round to choose just the one she
would have as her bedroom…
Eilean Donan, Highlands, Scotland
You can name almost any of the residences of royal kilt wearers (a personal favourite is Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh), but the most famous in the Highlands is the beautiful and mysterious Eilean Donan, which means
‘Island of Donnan’. Found on a a small tidal island located in the western
Highlands of Scotland, the castle was first founded in the 13th century
and after extensive 20th Century work now features in a litany of movies and TV shows (including a Monty Python cameo).
Kidwelly Castle/Castell Cydwell, Carmanthenshire, Wales
Known best for featuring in the establishing shot of Monty Python’s Search For The Holy Grail (aka one of the best comic films ever) this castle is a treasure of the Welsh countryside.
Eltham Palace, Eltham, England
First mentioned in the Doomsday book, Eltham Estate was presented to
King Edward II in 1305 and developed into one of the most favoured royal
palaces with 1,000 acres of deer park on its doorstep. #swoon
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland
Quite simply, that’s how Mr Kiwi and I came to find ourselves being
pushed (by some bloke) over a parapet, backwards, whilst holding on to a
couple of sturdy steel supports. Kissing the Blarney Stone was once of
those ‘pinch me’ moments that blew my tiny little mind, and it was well
worth the journey. (Will I ever become vaguely eloquent? Probably not, and I’m ok with that.)
What is your favourite castle? (Real or fiction…)
(PS. pin me!)