castles offer a long history that comes alive telling the story of ancient kings,
knights and warring clans that shaped the country's destiny over the centuries.
check out the some of the best preserved specimens throughout the country allowing
visitors an up-close look at medieval as well as modern-day royal castle life...
Along with centuries of history, Edinburgh Castle features great views of the city below.
Edinburgh Castle has witnessed centuries of sieges since it was first built in the 11th century. Today, it is the No. 1 visited castle in all of Scotland situated in
the heart of the country's capital, Edinburgh.
above the city in a strategic position built on ancient volcanic rock, the castle
remains a beacon for visitors and a goldmine of Scotland's historical artifacts
including displays of medieval armor and weapons, Scotland's crown and
sceptre, and the Royal apartments where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her
son, later James VI of Scotland and I of England.
the castle grounds, look for the Witches' Well, (where women found guilty of medieval
witchcraft met their fate) and take a peak inside tiny St. Margaret's Chapel,
all the more poignant for having survived centuries of tumult.
the 21st century, Edinburgh Castle is still a working castle and home to the Scottish
More famously, the castle Esplanade also plays host to the Military
Tattoo that takes place each year in August.
Cannon still in place high above Edinburgh.
Follow the Royal Mile (High Street) that ends directly at the castle esplanade.
Opening hours: 9.30am - 6.00pm
At the main entrance, ask about the courtesy mini-bus that takes visitors from
the esplanade up the steep inclines to the top of the castle.
Balmoral Castle, the favorite summer
home of Queen Elizabeth II.
Most noted today
as the summer home of Queen
Elizabeth II, Balmoral Castle (50 miles west of Aberdeen) only became a royal
retreat in the mid-19th century when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first set
up house here in 1848.
then, both the castle and acres of surrounding gardens and woodland have been
continually revamped and expanded to accommodate a burgeoning royal family as
well as millions of tourists annually from around the world.
and brood usually occupy the castle from August to September during their annual
summer getaway, but the beautiful estate gardens and castle ballroom are open
to visitors from the end of March to the end of July each year.
to Balmoral Castle:
By car, take A93 towards Braemar and approximately nine miles west of Ballater
you will come to Crathie, which is well sign posted for parking and visitor information.
Scheduled tours, as well as regular train and bus service, are also available
from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Opening hours: open daily from the
end of March until the end of July from 10 AM to 5PM.
access: Balmoral Castle offers handicapped parking, sign-posted handicapped
entrances & restrooms, as well as arrangements for free wheelchairs available
at the visitor's office.
A memorial to Robert the Bruce at Stirling Castle.
Surrounded by steep cliffs and centuries of history, Stirling Castle remains one of Scotland's
hour's drive from Edinburgh, the castle affords sweeping views of Stirling as
well as an awesome photo opportunity of the "Braveheart" William
Wallace Monument, a mile away.
the castle complex visitors may learn more about the stronghold's position in
history as the flashpoint for centuries of sieges during the struggle against
English domination. Here, for example, is where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned
remains a living museum with ongoing projects to restore the Great Hall, the Royal
Palace, and the Chapel Royal.
don't miss modern-day tapestry weavers in action as part of a project to decorate
the castle as it might have looked like in the 16th century.
From the castle battlements, a view of the William Wallace Monument built in 1869.
to Stirling Castle: Take the M9 to Stirling and follow sign posts to the castle.
Opening hours: Open daily from 9:30 AM to 6 PM.
access: A courtesy bus for visitors is available for visitors who may have
difficulty up the castle's steep inclines.
Named for the Island of Donan on which it is situated, Eilean Donan Castle
dates back to at least the 13th century. Since then, it has been built and rebuilt
over the centuries until eventually falling into ruin following the Jacobite rebellion
in the 18th century.
remained of the castle stood forgotten and forlorn for 200 years until 1911, when
Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap lovingly began a 25-year quest to restore
the castle to its former glory.
today representing more a major tourist attraction than an authentic piece of
Scottish history (it is THE most photographed castle in Scotland), Eilean Donan
is worth the trip for its majestic backdrop alone.
to Eilean Donan Castle: Take main route A87 to the picturesque village of
Dornie and follow signposts. The site is also a main stop on the way to the Isle
of Skye located 8 miles from the castle.
Opening hours: Open daily
10 AM - 6 PM with 9 AM openings during July and August.
access: Unavailable into the castle proper, but ask at the visitor center
about a peak inside Eilean Donan Castle via a computer virtual tour.