Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit | Edinburgh Castle | Eileen Donan Castle | Urquhart Castle | Stirling Castle | #Scotland #Castle #Travel #EdinburghCastle #UrquhartCastle #EileenDonan #StirlingCastle

4 Gorgeous Scottish Castles

The beauty of Scotland is never-ending. Nature provides gorgeous landscape–with mountains, lakes (lochs) and waterfalls there is no end to the photo ops. However, the castles created by humans throughout the centuries is amazingly comparable.

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain. Edinburgh is the capital, Glascow is the largest city, and the Unicorn is the national animal!

I traveled to Ireland and Scotland in September with my parents and sister, Beth. We were blessed with the opportunity to tour four of the top ten castles of Scotland–I’ve included photos, tips, historical information, and a bit of personal experience on each.

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Eileen Donan Castle

Eileen Donan Castle - Scotland

Eilean Donan is recognized as the most photographed castle of Scotland. It was built on an island outside of the village of Dornie. The castle is surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery–it’s no wonder this is one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish Highlands.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Speculation has it the name Eilean Donan– island of Donan– is from the 6th century Irish Saint, Bishop Donan, who came to Scotland around 580 AD. Several churches are also dedicated to Donan in the area and it’s likely he formed a small community on the island during the late 7th century.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit | Edinburgh Castle | Eileen Donan Castle | Urquhart Castle | Stirling Castle | #Scotland #Castle #Travel #EdinburghCastle #UrquhartCastle #EileenDonan #StirlingCastle

 

Inhabited around the 6th century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid-13th century. Eileen Donan stood guard over the lands of Kintail–an area of mountains in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. At least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built since due to the feudal history of Scotland.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

This door is amazing–notice the spiked bars at the top that are waiting to be released when necessary to keep out intruders…

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

The stained glass windows are gorgeous works of art. And no, this isn’t a pic of a real person–had me fooled too!

Eileen Donan Castle Website

Urquhart Castle

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Urquhart Castle is built on a peninsula surrounded by Loch Ness, about 2 miles southeast of the village of Drumnadrochit. It’s one of the most picturesque landmarks in Scotland.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

The 5 story tower house is accessed by crossing through a drawbridge. Sadly, the buildings are basically ruins comprised of demolished stone structures. When you’re at the top of the castle you have a great view up the length of the 23 mile loch. Of course, this is one of the best spots for reported sightings of the legendary Loch Ness Monster.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

The visitor center offers four main attractions. An exhibition includes a large model of the castle depicting what it might have looked like back in its better days. A theater runs an informative movie for visitors about the history of the castle from the 6th century to the 17th century, when it was demolished. A cafe offers a lovely view of  the castle and Loch Ness. And the gift shop holds many treasures, created mainly in Scotland–I purchased a beautiful green and purple plaid wool wrap here.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Loch Ness is one of the most famous lochs in Scotland. I believe it’s probably the most famous loch in the world due to the excitement over Nessie. Unfortunately, we did not spot her, possibly due to the rain.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Beth and I made the best of standing in the rain waiting for the Jacobite Warrior to take us across Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle!

Urquhart Castle Website

 

Stirling Castle

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture. Built on a hill above the city of Stirling, the castle and its surrounding view has the power to take your breath away.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Stirling Castle was the key to the kingdom of Scotland. It’s location dominates a huge volcanic rock above the river Forth where the Lowlands and Highlands meet.

Its origins are ancient and the castle has served as a royal residence and military stronghold. During the Wars of Independence–civil wars among the Scots and a struggle between Scotland and England–the castle changed hands eight times in 50 years.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Scottish royalty stayed at Stirling Castle during times of peace to enjoy its beauty and comforts, hunting lands, and to take care of government business.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

It eventually became an important military base and home to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders– a line infantry regiment of the British Army. They existed from 1881 until amalgamation into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.

Once the military moved out of Stirling Castle renovations began to return the main buildings to their original magnificence.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Scotland’s national animal is everywhere! This is one of many flags with unicorns displayed over the fireplaces and on the walls throughout Stirling Castle.

Stirling Castle Website

Edinburgh Castle

 

Edinburgh Castle is proclaimed one of the most exciting historic sites in Western Europe, Located high on a hill in the heart of the city, the grounds and view of the surrounding landscape from the upper levels are breathtaking.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

There is something of interest for every age group at Edinburgh castle. Keep in mind it’s huge and I suggest planning to spend half a day visiting at minimum. You won’t be disappointed–there  are amazing display of architecture and historical memorabilia. We didn’t rent an audio guide, but most of the exhibits are well labeled with a bit of explanation next to them.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Edinburgh Castle includes the Royal Palace, St. Margaret’s Chapel, the National War Museum, the Scottish National War Memorial, and the oldest crown jewels of the British Isles. Like any other tourist attraction, there are cafes and gift shops to make your visit even more memorable.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit | Edinburgh Castle | Eileen Donan Castle | Urquhart Castle | Stirling Castle | #Scotland #Castle #Travel #EdinburghCastle

Scottish Military Poster - Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles You Must Visit #Scotland #Castles #Edinburgh #Scottish #RoyalScotsFusiliers #Travel

 

We had fun searching for clues to our Watson family heritage in the National War Museum. The museum contains artifacts that range from letters home from foreign campaigns to military uniforms and weapons.

There were many cool posters from throughout Scotland’s military history, including prints with Argyll on them. This is meaningful because my parents met as children in their hometown of Argyle, WI. Also, my great, great, great-grandfather James Watson was a Royal Scots Fusilier.

The museum opened in 1933 and is now run by the National Museums Scotland.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

Even though we arrived at the castle right when it opened, we waited in line for a bit to view the Royal Crown Jewels. Known as The Honours of Scotland, this display is in the Crown Room on the first floor of the Royal Palace. Unfortunately, taking pictures in this area is not allowed.

 

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

 

We enjoyed formal tea at the castle’s Queen Anne Tea Room. This included the cutest–and tastiest–little sandwiches and desserts I’ve ever seen!

My Mom, Beth and I had a great day at the Edinburgh Castle!

 

Edinburgh Castle Website

 

Scotland: Castles and Clans

Discover Scotland’s forgotten legends. Historian Brian C. Mack explores the panorama of Scottish history in rich detail with accounts of battles, castles and heroic figures. Artist Karol Mack brings the famous sites to life with beautiful paintings. Its superb storytelling and visual appeal make this the ideal book  for anyone touched by the romance and beauty of Scotland.

 

Check out my post Scotland: Fun Facts and Interesting Tidbits.

Needless to say, these gorgeous castles make Scotland well worth placing at the top of your bucket list when planning your next trip!

Till next time, Sandra

 

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Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit | Edinburgh Castle | Eileen Donan Castle | Urquhart Castle | Stirling Castle | #Scotland #Castle #Travel #EdinburghCastle #UrquhartCastle #EileenDonan #StirlingCastle

Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit | Edinburgh Castle | Eileen Donan Castle | Urquhart Castle | Stirling Castle | #Scotland #Castle #Travel #EdinburghCastle #UrquhartCastle #EileenDonan #StirlingCastle

8 thoughts on “Scotland: 4 Stunning Castles to Visit

  • Pingback:Scotland: Fun Facts & Interesting Tidbits ~ Boom2Bloom.com

  • October 12, 2018 at 11:54 am
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    You took some wonderful pics of castles. Love them!

    Reply
    • October 12, 2018 at 12:29 pm
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      Thank for reading and commenting Eliza!

      Reply
  • October 13, 2018 at 6:11 am
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    I loved this post. So timely. I am planning a trip to Scotland to trace my ancestry back to the Mackenzie Clan who once ruled the Eilean Donne Castle. Thanks for all the great resources to help me plan my pilgrimage.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2018 at 8:32 am
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      Pat- How cool! Have fun with your research and travels!

      Reply
  • October 17, 2018 at 5:09 pm
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    Being of Hunter decent I would love for someone to feature the Hunter Castle in Ayrshir. I love the history and stories of Scotland and would love to see more. Hopefully someday in person. Thank you for this post! Enjoyed it. You can find some of my genealogy research of the Hunters on Ancestry.com

    Reply
    • October 18, 2018 at 6:24 am
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      Cynthia,
      I will have to read up on the Hunter Castle. My sister has done a lot of our Irish genealogy and just recently started on the Scottish part. It’s so interesting!

      Reply
  • Pingback:Ireland: 4 Frightening Castles to Visit...If You Dare! ~ Boom2Bloom.com

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